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HOUSE OF LORDS REPORT ON AI SUGGESTS KEY ROLE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY

CHARITIES’ INPUT IS VITAL

16 April 2018

The House of Lords’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence has today released a report entitled “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?”

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has been calling for civil society to be involved in the ethical development of AI for some time. Whilst the report is far-reaching and impacts a number of industries, we’re thrilled to see the Select Committee making clear the strategic importance of civil society in shaping the conversation on how AI must benefit individuals and society as a whole.

Despite acknowledging the challenges that the UK faces in developing responsible AI, the Select Committee is bullish about the country’s prospects. The report states that:

  • The UK is well-positioned to become a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence in the following century
  • There is an opportunity for the UK to influence AI’s development on a global scale
  • The Select Committee recommends that the Government work with Government-sponsored AI organisations in other leading AI countries to establish a global summit, creating international norms for the design, development, regulation and deployment of artificial intelligence

However, the report does state that there is “still a lack of clarity as to how AI can best be used to benefit individuals and society.” Clearly, charities and civil society at large have a key role to play in ensuring that AI matures in a legitimate fashion moving forward.

Several of CAF’s recommendations make it into the Select Committee’s report. These include concerns that irresponsible AI could concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a small minority that owns and controls the technology and its applications, as well as fears that AI-driven interfaces will seek to present us with choices and interactions based on existing preferences (limiting our experiences even further without us realising it).

It’s encouraging that the House of Lords’ Select Committee realises the strategic benefits of involving civil society in these consultations. Rhodri Davies, Head of Policy at the Charities Aid Foundation, adds:

“The rise of artificial intelligence and the relentless pace of technological change pose profound questions for all of us. It’s crucial that we work through the implications for society or we risk leaving people behind.

“Charities often represent the most marginalised people and communities in our society. And since it is they who are most likely to be hit earliest and hardest by the negative effects of new technology, it is vital that charities are able to speak up on their behalf.

“We can’t just leave these questions to the technology developers, as they will affect all of our lives in coming years. That is why charities and our wider civil society need to play their part to make sure these exciting but unnerving developments make life better for millions of people.”

Notes to editors

The full report – entitled “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?” – is available to download here.

 

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