AI legislation needed now for the UK to win the global tech race

Ramprakash Ramamoorthy stresses how important it is for the UK government to support its AI technology ambitions with the necessary legal infastructure.

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The UK’s ambition to establish itself as a global tech powerhouse has been a cornerstone of recent government policy discussions, with significant focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies over the past year. 

Ongoing initiatives such as the £54 million investment into secure and trustworthy AI development and a £100 million investment in a taskforce for safe AI development, reflect the government’s ongoing commitment to fostering AI innovation. These investments have not only helped promote research and development, but also created a great platform on which AI developments can further advance. 

Recent news, however, has revealed that MPs have warned that the Prime Minister’s global AI ambitions could be at risk unless new AI regulation laws are introduced at the impending global AI summit, which is scheduled for November at Bletchley Park.

The delay in introducing such regulations could potentially leave the UK lagging behind its European counterparts and jeopardise its standing as a leader in the AI race. We believe businesses, industry experts, academia, regulators and government are the stakeholders who should all work together to ensure the right aspects are considered to develop the correct landscape for the ethical and responsible deployment of AI. This could help the UK remain at the forefront.

Addressing concerns

AI is sometimes portrayed negatively in the media as something that could overpower and take job opportunities away. The AI summit presents a great opportunity to address such concerns while the technology remains in its frontier development stages for mass adoption.

In order to help the ethical rollout of the technology, several challenges need to be addressed, including the potential for biases and discriminatory outcomes with AI adoption. For example, in hiring processes, AI algorithms may inadvertently perpetuate biases present in historical data. 

All parties involved in setting regulation and guidelines should consider the best way of tackling this issue and address what can be done to mitigate biases and discriminatory outcomes.

Further education on the impact of the jobs market is needed to demonstrate the power the new technological developments also have to create new employment opportunities. Just like any technology evolution or revolution there will be some change, but this will be balanced. For example, it is quite possible that the next breakthrough for AI will be to generate code (software). This could mean that ‘the low hanging fruit’ of software development could be done by AI and only the highly sophisticated software is human generated. If this were to come true, over 50% of software in the next generation could be machine (AI) generated. This could possibly bring down the cost of software and the number of people working on it. It could be the ‘industrial revolution’ moment for the software industry.  The focus then may shift from software development to solution building, customisation and deployment – all of which is very people intensive and requires customer and domain knowledge.

AI to supercharge business

According to the UK’s National AI Strategy, set out by the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, by taking a proactive role in the development of safe and responsible AI technologies, the UK can attract more business and investment opportunities, ultimately driving economic growth and innovation.

If applied with the right strategy, AI has the potential to supercharge a business, enhancing operations, improving customer experience, and unlocking opportunities for new industries and job roles. 

For example, AI is already being used in business tools to help with aspects such as fraud detection, forecasting and analysis of data. It is also becoming increasingly used to enhance CX with customer service bots enabling faster response times for simple customer enquiries, and flagging when more complex enquiries require human response.

Zoho has been developing use of AI for business for over a decade in-house, and is already applying it within many business tools to create better solutions for customers, including data cleaning, sentiment analysis, product recommendation, malicious file detection, translation, trend detection, receipt scanning, outage prediction and many more.

As well as adding value, it can also deliver significant cost savings for businesses. For example, a report from Yell even disclosed that businesses could save over £29,000 per year with AI deployed.

To realise its full potential, international collaboration on AI regulation is needed from all stakeholder groups, with input from successful business use cases to date. This could result in sharing of best practices, increasing standards and benefitting businesses of all sizes as well as the global tech ecosystem.

The road ahead

The regulation of AI will not be a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Different industries and applications may require tailored approaches to address their unique challenges and opportunities. This adaptable approach to regulation could potentially lead to better outcomes for businesses and society as a whole.

The upcoming Bletchley Park Summit has the potential to be a turning point in the responsible development and use of AI technologies. By fostering international collaboration and consensus on AI safety, the UK has an opportunity to shape responsible AI practices globally.

Ramprakash Ramamoorthy - Head of AI Research for Zoho Europe

Ramprakash heads a unit specialising in Machine Learning and analytics for Zoho's suite of products for businesses of all sizes. With 55+ applications, Zoho caters to 100 million+ users for their end-to-end business.

Zoho Corporation
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