Scientists react to the response of the UK government to the AI regulation white paper consultation.
Dr Andrew Garrett, president of the Royal Statistical Society, said:
“We welcome the government’s response to the AI white paper, particularly its emphasis on regulatory responsiveness. Urgency is certainly warranted, and the directive for key regulators to disclose their approach in the coming months is a positive development. Ensuring consistency and coherence not only among key regulators but also those who follow is crucial.
“As always, fostering diversity of representation within government and regulatory bodies remains paramount, it cannot solely rely on input from major tech companies. It is especially important that the AI Safety Institute engages with a diverse array of voices, including statisticians and data scientists who play a pivotal role in both the development of AI systems and novel evaluation methodologies.”
Dr Cosmina Dorobantu, Co-Director of the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Institute, said:
“We welcome the Government’s approach to AI regulation, leveraging the existing deep sectoral-level expertise of the UK’s regulators to effectively steer AI design, development, and deployment towards a path of ethical and responsible innovation. We look forward to working with both the Government and the regulators to make this approach a success.”
Dr Andrew Rogoyski, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at the Surrey Institute for People-Centred AI, University of Surrey, said:
“The Government response recognises that “many regulators in the UK can struggle to enforce existing rules on those actors designing, training, and developing the most powerful general-purpose AI systems.” highlighting the lack of sovereign control the UK has over the big players in AI, which are predominantly based in the US or China. Many businesses, government organisations and even schools in the UK are already using generative AI solutions with no UK controls in place.
“There is recognition that “technologies could enable firms to gain or entrench market power” so we need approaches to avoid potential societal harms and imbalances that this may cause.
“There is a marked disparity of scale in investment and compute infrastructure between UK government and global industry. The UK Government is proud to announce a £100m investment in AI while, as an example, Mistral (a French AI company) raised a similar amount of investment within 4 weeks of formation. Tens of billions are being poured into AI in the US private sector. Any one of the large US AI companies spends more on R&D than the combined UK Government and Industry R&D funding. The UK needs to spend substantially more just to stay in the game.
“The response recognises that “our current legal frameworks and regulator remits may not effectively mitigate the risks posed by highly capable general-purpose AI systems” and that “AI will ultimately require legislative action once the understanding of risk has matured”. I’m not sure we should wait for AI risks to mature.
“There is an urgency to AI regulation that isn’t coming across in the government response, and there’s a timeline problem – The reality is that no statutory obligations on AI providers will be imposed before the UK election, and it’ll be months before a new government of whatever colour decides on its actions. We’re looking at a couple of years. The AI world will have moved on and the UK will probably have no choice but to follow the US’ and Europe’s approach to AI regulation.
“It’s good to see that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and ICO to develop new solutions to address bias and discrimination in AI systems – we need AI systems to represent all of humanity equally.”
no reply to our request for DOIs was received.