On 12 January, the UK Government (the “Government”) announced that a new pilot initiative, as part of their wider National AI Strategy, would go ahead in pursuit of seeking to shape the way organisations and regulators develop technical standards for artificial intelligence (“AI”). The announcement signals the beginning of an aspect of the Government’s 10 year plan to strengthen the UK’s position as a global leader in science and AI, following developments from the work completed by the House of Lords Select Committee on AI, which DLA Piper discussed in March 2021.

AI – No longer just the ‘flavour of the month’

The announcement comes at a time of substantial activity in the area of AI throughout the world. In April 2021, the EU commission announced a draft AI regulation that would form the basis of most regulation of AI throughout the European Union (further information of which can be found in DLA Piper’s EU AI Regulation Handbook). In other parts of the world, such as the US, similar legislation continues to develop in a sort of ‘legislative arms race’ to be the best location for organisations to innovate and advance AI.

Given the extensive effort the Government has already dedicated to furthering their goal, it is of little surprise that the UK is already seeing significant developments throughout all sectors. In their announcement, the Government highlighted that in 2010 alone, over £63 billion was spent by UK organisations on AI technology and AI related labour. By 2040, this is expected to be in excess of £200 billion. The announcement goes on to note that research by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (“DCMS“) anticipates that use of AI within businesses is expected to “more than double” reaching over 1.3 million businesses incorporating AI into their organisations by 2040.

The AI Standards Hub

The Government have selected The Alan Turing Institute, supported closely by the British Standards Institution and the National Physical Laboratory, to lead the charge in the piloting of a new AI Standards Hub. The primary aim of the Hub is to assist the UK in providing insight to the development of global AI technical standards. The Hub intends to do this by, among other things, creating a number of tools and materials that organisations can use to collaborate and benefit from the development of a cohesive body of standards.

While in its pilot stage, the Standards Hub will focus on four key goals:

  • i) growing UK engagement to develop global AI standards by bringing together information about technical standards and development initiatives;
  • ii) bringing the AI community together through workshops, events, and a new online platform to encourage more coordinated engagement in the development of standards;
  • iii) creating tools and guidance for education, training, and professional development to help businesses and other organisations engage with creating AI technical standards; and
  • iv) exploring international collaboration with similar initiatives to ensure the development of technical standards are shaped by a wide range of AI experts, in line with shared values.

The specifics as to how these goals will be achieved remain fluid and a series of roundtables with an array of organisations is expected to better target the pilot’s activities.

Further detail on the specifics of the pilot and its future roundtables, and potential opportunities for contribution and involvement, are anticipated to follow within early 2022.