Lawmaking bodies around the world are grappling with the explosive growth of artificial intelligence (AI). But instead of rushing to judgment, the UK. will take a more measured approach to AI regulation and prioritize fostering innovation, a government minister pledged today.
“There is always a risk of premature regulation,” Jonathan Camrose, the UK’s first minister for AI and intellectual property, told the Financial Times, pointing to the need to avoid measures that could inadvertently “stifle innovation.”
If the hands-off approach can be sustained, the UK will stand in stark contrast with the more rigorous regulatory efforts of the U.S., European Union, and China.
During a recent conference, Camrose declared that the UK does not plan to introduce AI regulation in the short term. Camrose regularly posts headlines about AI breakthroughs on Twitter, and takes a largely positive stance on the technology.
A brilliant demonstration of AI’s potential to transform healthcare – helping predict the risk of heart attacks and improving treatments to save lives. We will continue to safely harness the opportunities of AI, helping us live longer, healthier lives.https://t.co/GmgY4jEEXL
— Jonathan Camrose (@JonathanCamrose) November 13, 2023
Camrose said he wasn't going to criticize the approach taken by other governments related to AI, but warned that government regulations often bring unintended consequences.
"You are not actually making anybody as safe as it sounds." he said. "You are stifling innovation, and innovation is a very, very important part of the AI equation."
This decision aligns with the UK's broader vision to transform into an AI-enabled economy.
This domestic strategy is complemented by the UK's involvement in international AI safety initiatives, as evidenced by the recently issued Bletchley Declaration, a joint compact among several countries, including the United States and China. This declaration, emerging from the AI Safety Summit in England, underscores the importance of developing AI safely, responsibly, and in a human-centric way. The declaration recognizes AI's potential to enhance human well-being and its significant role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
"We affirm that, whilst safety must be considered across the AI lifecycle, actors developing frontier AI capabilities… have a particularly strong responsibility for ensuring the safety of these AI systems." the declaration states.
Although aware of the dual nature of AI as both a potent tool for progress and a source of potential risk, Richi Sunak’s government is focused on being as pro-AI as possible within the country’s current legal framework.
The UK's cautious regulatory approach has ramifications for various sectors, notably creative industries—which seem to be divided. According to a statement from the UK's culture, media, and sports committee, Decrypt reported, there is a growing need for a comprehensive understanding of AI's impact on these industries.
The committee asserts, "All branches of government need to better understand the impact of AI, and technology more broadly, on the creative industries and be able to defend their interests consistently."
The UK's decision to hold off on immediate AI regulations might allow the local AI industry to align and thrive. However, it also raises questions about the lack of strong regulatory measures to address new threats that result from new use cases for this technology, including deepfakes and unfair use of copyrighted material.