Market Intelligence
Information and Communication Technology United Kingdom

UK AI Regulations 2023

In Spring 2023, the UK Government published its policy paper on “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” open for consultation until June 21st, 2023. Responses to the consultation will inform how we develop the regulatory framework.

The UK Government has set out five cross-cutting principles that will underpin the UK’s AI regulatory approach:

  • Safety, security, and robustness (i.e. AI systems in the UK need to have been trained and built on robust data)
  • Appropriate transparency and explainability (i.e. how the system works should be explainable to their users)
  • Fairness (i.e. AI should not undermine individuals’ legal rights)
  • Accountability and governance (i.e. AI systems must have appropriate oversight over the way it is used and clear lines of accountability)
  • Contestability and redress (i.e. there need to be avenues for redress if an AI system causes harm)

Rather than targeting specific technologies, the policy paper focuses on the context in which AI is deployed. Initially, the government does not intend to introduce new legislation to avoid placing undue burdens on businesses. Instead, the Government will issue its five principles to the UK’s regulators on a non-statutory basis and ask them over the next 12 months to deliver guidance on how these will apply to AI technologies.

In the paper, the UK Government is confirming its commitment to establish a regulatory sandbox for AI to bring together regulators to support innovators directly. The sandbox will also help the government to understand how regulation interacts with new technologies and refine this interaction where necessary.

The priorities for continued monitoring and evaluation are:

  • Assessing risks across the economy from AI
  • Supporting tests and initiatives to help new AI technologies come to the market
  • Providing AI education and awareness to businesses and citizens
  • Promoting interoperability with international regulatory frameworks

The UK has expressed a commitment to engaging internationally to support interoperability across different regulatory regimes and is planning to host an AI summit in the fall to discuss internationally coordinated action to mitigate risks posed by artificial intelligence.

The UK will consult on the establishment of a ‘central function’ to provide a real-time assessment of how the regulatory framework is performing and to engage with experts and with the public. This ‘central function’ would:

  • Develop and maintain a central monitoring system, evaluation framework, regulatory guidance system, and risk register monitor
  • Help support innovators by removing barriers to innovation and identifying cross-cutting regulatory issues
  • Provide guidance and raise awareness to businesses
  • Monitor trends and opportunities in AI development

On the timeline, these are the UK government’s plans:

  • In the next 6 months:
    • Engage with relevant actors in the field of AI
    • Publish the government’s response to the consultation
    • Publish an AI regulation roadmap to establish the central government function as well as the regulatory sandbox
    • Issue cross-sectoral principles to regulators with initial guidance for implementation
    • Support research to better understand potential barriers posed by the framework, the ability of key regulators to implement the framework, and how to resolve risks posed by AI
  • In the next 6-12 months:
    • Agree to partnerships with leading AI organizations
    • Publish proposals for the design of a central monitoring and evaluation framework
    • Regulators to start publishing guidance
    • Develop the regulatory testing ‘sandbox’ where prototypes and new AI developments can be trialed
    • Beyond the next 12 months:
    • Publish a draft central cross-economy AI risk register for a consultation
    • Publish a monitoring and evaluation report
    • Deliver the first central support functions and keep developing the regulatory sandbox
    • Publish an updated AI regulation roadmap which will set out plans for the future and indicate whether a government unit or independent body would be the most appropriate mechanism to deliver the central functions

The UK’s pro-business approach and its commitment to working with businesses on safe and responsible innovation rather than just focusing on the risks should reassure U.S. AI companies in the UK market. Some concerns however remain around the UK regulators’ bandwidth to cover AI and how the UK Government will coordinate AI regulation across various industries.

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