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AI All Party Parliamentary Group

An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting on Artificial Intelligence (the inaugural meeting) was convened by Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative MP) and Lord Clement-Jones CBE (Liberal Democrat peer) to consider ‘the future and implications of Artificial Intelligence’.

Advances in robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) hold the potential to fundamentally reshape the way we live and work.

Chris Cartwright, Chairman of the Information & Communications Sector, recently attended an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting on Artificial Intelligence (the inaugural meeting) convened by Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative MP) and Lord Clement-Jones CBE (Liberal Democrat peer) to consider ‘the future and implications of Artificial Intelligence’.

This was a well-attended event with experts from all domains and the discussion kicked off by a panel of experts, between them covering research, commercial, ethical, practical, and economic perspectives. The following speakers offered their thoughts:

  • Professor Birgitte Anderson, CEO Big Innovation Centre
  • Professor John Shawe-Taylor, Head of Computer Science, UCL
  • Dr Stephen Cave, Executive Director, Leverhulme Centre for Future of Intelligence
  • Shamus Rae, Partner, Innovation, Investments and Cognitive Transformation, KPMG
  • Dr Claire Taylor, Senior Consultant & Fellow, Machine Learning, QinetiQ

AI is a global concern, and attendees noted that other countries may have greater resource, a more relaxed attitude to ethics and data, or greater success at exploiting university intellectual property.

The main discussion centred on the following areas:

The UK’s strengths

The first is the UK’s expertise across various AI techniques, whereas recent interest and investment has focused on a narrow subset (deep learning).

Secondly, given that global regulation and standards are required, the UK is well placed for this, skilled at building consensus amongst stakeholders and creating frameworks that are flexible and permit innovation.

Jobs

AI will impact jobs in two ways.

  1. In the short-term, there will be demand for workers with the STEM skills needed to design and implement AI systems.
  2. In the longer term, whilst it is debatable whether AI will create more jobs than it destroys, it will substantially change the types of jobs available. Education will be important, but in the context of universal basic income, under-employment etc., it is also critical to keep in mind ‘what it is to be human and live well’.

The pace of change in different industries will vary, so if you take automation of the professions (as AI takes on repetitive cognitive tasks) this will cause fewer qualified professionals to be available for industries that still require them.

Trust & Regulation

Government should take the lead on matters of trust in AI. Standards and regulation should measure more than just the performance of technology, and they should take in to account social value, purpose, quality, and sustainability.

Regulation needs to encompass all types of scenario, one example: ‘Data has changed the terms of business between corporations and customers. Are there limits to what will be allowable? Is it OK to use social media data to find out that a friend/relative is ill and to adjust the price to reflect the urgent desire to visit, thus maximising profit for the companies?’

Data

The machine learning component of AI is powered by data and much of that data has been, and will continue to be, personal. The contracts between corporations and individuals that permit use of this data are multiple, wordy, and opaque, so that questions of consent and ownership are meaningless. The idea of a charter on how data can be used was suggested. In this ‘sharing revolution’, the individual would have control of their own data, and consent, transparency, fairness, and accountability, would be built-in.