UK government announces £100m for advancing AI regulation

The UK government has revealed a £100 million initiative to bolster ‘more agile’ AI regulation.

It comes as £10 million is announced to prepare and upskill regulators to address the risks and harness the opportunities of this defining technology. The fund will help regulators develop cutting-edge research and practical tools to monitor and address risks and opportunities in their sectors, from telecoms and healthcare to finance and education.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology, Michelle Donelan said: “The UK’s innovative approach to AI regulation has made us a world leader in both AI safety and AI development.

I am personally driven by AI’s potential to transform our public services and the economy for the better – leading to new treatments for cruel diseases like cancer and dementia, and opening the door to advanced skills and technology that will power the British economy of the future.

As part of the package of measures, nearly £90 million will go towards launching nine new research hubs across the UK and a partnership with the US on responsible AI. The hubs will support British AI expertise in harnessing the technology across areas including healthcare, chemistry, and mathematics.

£19 million will also go towards 21 projects to develop innovative trusted and responsible AI and machine learning solutions to accelerate deployment of these technologies and drive productivity.

The government will also be launching a steering committee in spring to support and guide the activities of a formal regulator coordination structure within government in the spring. 

These measures sit alongside the £100 million invested by the government in the world’s first AI Safety Institute to evaluate the risks of new AI models, and the global leadership shown by hosting the world’s first major summit on AI safety at Bletchley Park in November.

Roman Kucera, CTO at Ataccama commented: “It is heartening to see the UK government taking a positive step to cut through the buzz on AI and focus on practical ways to support and encourage the development and adoption of AI for UK businesses. Every organisation today is increasingly data-driven by requirement and keeping up with technology development is critical to being competitive. At the same time, there is a great opportunity to ethically harness the insights that data pools can provide to solve the big medical, scientific, and other unanswered questions of our time.

One of the biggest challenges of using AI effectively, however, is that the benefits are heavily dependent on the quality of the data it uses to mine for usable insights, so in addition to investing in AI research and regulating data use, managing data sources will play a critical role in this transformation. Given the amount of AI expertise in academia and within the private sector, we would hope to see ongoing collaboration to ensure best practices around how AI can optimally be used are developed, and that risk management and regulation is well-balanced with extracting the full potential that such technology has to offer.

Tom Dunning, CEO of Ad Signal commented:

The UK government’s plans to regulate AI are a welcome step forward, but more must be done to ensure that AI is developed and used in a way that is sustainable.

The focus on developing “safe AI tools” is important, but it is essential to consider the environmental impact of AI. AI systems can be very energy-intensive, and they can also generate a lot of data that needs to be stored and processed. The government should work with the tech industry to develop AI systems that are more energy-efficient and that minimise data usage, helping to get out in front of the exponential damage AI is already starting to cause.

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