UK Launches Initiative to Develop Global AI Standards

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The UK government has announced a new initiative to develop global standards for artificial intelligence (AI).

The Alan Turing Institute, supported by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), will pilot the AI Standards Hub, which is designed to improve AI governance as the use of these technologies increases in society. The hub will be backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office for AI (OAI).

In its pilot phase, the hub will focus on four areas:

  • Growing UK engagement to develop global AI standards
  • Bringing the AI community together
  • Creating tools and guidance for education, training and professional development
  • Exploring international collaboration with similar initiatives

It is hoped the scheme will help facilitate innovation in AI and unlock the enormous economic potential of these technologies. This can allow organizations to improve their productivity and develop more flexible ways of working, leading to significant societal benefits. For example, in cybersecurity, AI is already playing a vital role in detecting threats and relieving pressures on security teams.  

The UK government has published new research showing that UK businesses spent around £63bn on AI technology and AI related-labor in 2020. It also estimated that investment in AI will reach more than £200bn by 2040.

However, there remains significant security, ethical and legal concerns around the use of AI, including data collection and storage and algorithmic bias. This necessitates the development of standards to ensure these technologies are developed and used correctly.

Commenting on the announcement, DCMS Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Chris Philp, said: “It’s imperative the UK remains at the forefront of this transformative technology which is already improving our lives and has huge potential to create new jobs and wealth.

“Today, I’m confirming that the renowned Alan Turing Institute will lead the trial of a new UK program with support from the BSI and NPL to help shape and improve the global standards for AI.”

Scott Steedman, director-general, standards, at BSI, added: “International standards are a vital tool to help unlock the economic potential of AI, including establishing a common language for all to use. BSI, as the national standards body, is ideally placed to convene the AI community in the UK to identify and develop good practices for the development, governance and use of AI technologies that will be internationally recognized.”

The new initiative forms part of the UK’s National AI Strategy, which aims to harness the “power of AI to increase resilience, productivity, growth and innovation across the private and public sectors.”

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