From education to employment

UK can lead the way on ethical AI, says Lords Committee

Today (16 Apr), a new parliamentary report “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?“, revealed that the UK has the potential to be a leader in developing AI and called on the government to support businesses in the field. It also recommended that people be educated to work alongside AI in the jobs of the future.

Jan Mueller, Global Vice President, Marquee Accounts at Korn Ferry, responded to the news:

“As the UK continues its transformation into an increasingly digitally-led business environment, business models, industries and working practices are set to transform, with new technologies like AI shaping the future of our workforce. Given the speed at which researchers advance AI technology, many studies, as well as prominent figures in the industry – think Elon Musk – predict AI will overtake human jobs. But, as this latest parliamentary report shows, many jobs will, in fact, be enhanced by AI. Although many jobs will disappear, a whole new wave will be created meaning we will see increasing demands for new skill sets in virtually every job and profession.  

“To stay ahead of competition, businesses will face the challenge of ensuring their employees not only have the right skills set but are also agile. While hiring and retaining workers who can adapt to the fast pace of change can be tough for business leaders, implementing AI solutions can be a game changer.

“In recent years, assessing agility has been made easy through tools which leverage large volumes of data, whilst skills gaps have been minimised through internal training and development practices. What’s more, by more efficiently assessing results to ensure the right people are placed in the right jobs, AI brings with it a number of benefits for both talent acquisition personnel and businesses in the workplace.  

“With all the changes taking place around us, the time is now for talent acquisition professionals and business leaders to adopt a more strategic approach to the future and current workforce. With a strategic approach, organisations can ensure they’ll have the right employees to drive theirs and the wider economy’s future success.” 

The UK is in a strong position to be a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). This position, coupled with the wider adoption of AI, could deliver a major boost to the economy for years to come. The best way to do this is to put ethics at the centre of AI’s development and use concludes the report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence.

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement-Jones, said:

“The UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit and to lead the international community in AI’s ethical development, rather than passively accept its consequences.

“The UK contains leading AI companies, a dynamic academic research culture, and a vigorous start-up ecosystem as well as a host of legal, ethical, financial and linguistic strengths. We should make the most of this environment, but it is essential that ethics take centre stage in AI’s development and use.

“AI is not without its risks and the adoption of the principles proposed by the Committee will help to mitigate these. An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse.

“We want to make sure that this country remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop this exciting technology. However, start-ups can struggle to scale up on their own. Our recommendations for a growth fund for SMEs and changes to the immigration system will help to do this.

“We’ve asked whether the UK is ready willing and able to take advantage of AI. With our recommendations, it will be.”

AI Code

One of the recommendations of the report is for a cross-sector AI Code to be established, which can be adopted nationally, and internationally. The Committee’s suggested five principles for such a code are:

  1. Artificial intelligence should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity.
  2. Artificial intelligence should operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness.
  3. Artificial intelligence should not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.
  4. All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence.
  5. The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence.

Recommendations included in the report

Other conclusions from the report include:

  • Many jobs will be enhanced by AI, many will disappear and many new, as yet unknown jobs, will be created. Significant Government investment in skills and training will be necessary to mitigate the negative effects of AI. Retraining will become a lifelong necessity.
  • Individuals need to be able to have greater personal control over their data, and the way in which it is used. The ways in which data is gathered and accessed needs to change, so that everyone can have fair and reasonable access to data, while citizens and consumers can protect their privacy and personal agency. This means using established concepts, such as open data, ethics advisory boards and data protection legislation, and developing new frameworks and mechanisms, such as data portability and data trusts.
  • The monopolisation of data by big technology companies must be avoided, and greater competition is required. The Government, with the Competition and Markets Authority, must review the use of data by large technology companies operating in the UK.
  • The prejudices of the past must not be unwittingly built into automated systems. The Government should incentivise the development of new approaches to the auditing of datasets used in AI, and also to encourage greater diversity in the training and recruitment of AI specialists.
  • Transparency in AI is needed. The industry, through the AI Council, should establish a voluntary mechanism to inform consumers when AI is being used to make significant or sensitive decisions.
  • At earlier stages of education, children need to be adequately prepared for working with, and using, AI. The ethical design and use of AI should become an integral part of the curriculum.
  • The Government should be bold and use targeted procurement to provide a boost to AI development and deployment. It could encourage the development of solutions to public policy challenges through speculative investment. There have been impressive advances in AI for healthcare, which the NHS should capitalise on.
  • It is not currently clear whether existing liability law will be sufficient when AI systems malfunction or cause harm to users, and clarity in this area is needed. The Committee recommend that the Law Commission investigate this issue.
  • The Government needs to draw up a national policy framework, in lockstep with the Industrial Strategy, to ensure the coordination and successful delivery of AI policy in the UK.

Written evidence volume: AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? (PDF)

Oral evidence volume: AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? (PDF)

What do the public need to know about AI?

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