House of Lords committee calls for AI code of ethics

Tyrone Stewart

Houses of ParliamentA group of UK lawmakers has laid out recommendations for the ethical development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK, where US technology giants would be unable to monopolise data within the Kingdom.

The report from the House of Lords’ select committee on AI highlights the need to introduce a cross-sector AI code that would set out the guidelines for AI being built for the benefit of humanity, with intelligibility and fairness, to maintain people’s data rights, to educate, and to not “hurt, destroy or deceive human beings”.

“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,” said Lord Clement-Jones, chairman of the committee.

“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.”

During the nine-month investigation into AI development in the UK, the committee received 223 written pieces of evidence and interviewed a further 57 witnesses.

The report also concluded that the government must invest in training people to limit the number of jobs lost to AI, while individuals should be given more control of their personal data – which, of course, will become a factor from next month with GDPR anyway.

The committee also makes it clear that more must be done to ensure that major tech companies do not get a monopolisation over data in the UK, ensuring that UK startups are not kept down. In addition, the committee recommends the need for more transparency, education, a national policy framework, and more.