Trust gap is key blocker to the UK’s AI objectives

The UK is at risk of falling behind as artificial intelligence adoption rates lag compared to other major global economies.

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Low levels of public trust in artificial intelligence could prevent the UK from fulfilling its goal to become a global leader for the technology, according to poll results.

The survey, conducted by the British Standards Institution (BSI), indicates that while Britons are aware of the opportunity for AI, there are low levels of trust. The report found that 61% want guidelines to be established for AI’s safe use.

The widening gap in trust pushes the UK behind China and India, where enthusiasm for the technology is greater. Some 70% of workers in China and 64% in India use AI every day at work, compared to the UK’s 29%.

The poll precedes the AI Safety Summit due to be hosted from November 1 at Bletchley Park, where big tech companies and world leaders will discuss the risks and opportunities posed by AI.

Bridging the trust gap

Despite the slower rate of AI adoption, British respondents expressed excitement about the technology. Nearly half (48%) said AI can be used effectively to take on tasks humans don’t have time for, while 55% said with training, they would trust AI to do parts of their job.

“For [AI] to be a powerful force for good, trust needs to be the critical factor,” warns Harold Pradal, Chief Commercial Officer at BSI.

“Closing the AI confidence gap is the first necessary step. It has to be delivered through education to help realise AI’s benefits and shape society in a positive way,” he adds.

The UK government has centralised the role of regulations in its approach to AI innovation. Speaking at CogX 2023, the Secretary of State for the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) Michelle Donelan stressed, “We want AI to be successful because of our regulations, not despite them.”

To help foster a wider sense of public trust, the government will work with Google’s DeepMind, Microsoft, OpenAI and other governments to create regulations that prevent the dangers posed by AI.

The role of SMEs in fostering trust

Although public regulations will govern the space within which SMEs can innovate and integrate AI, businesses can also foster trust directly with their customers and their teams.

“This can be addressed by developing greater understanding and recognition that human involvement will always be needed if we are to make best use of this technology, and by ensuring we have frameworks that are in place to govern its use and build trust,” notes Craig Civil, Director of Data Science and AI at BSI.

“Closing the confidence gap and building the appropriate checks and balances can enable us to make not just good but great use of AI in every area of life and society,” he continues.

As AI continues to develop, conducting internal training to prepare businesses for the technology will be crucial, according to experts.

Research by Salesforce indicates that only one-in-ten global workers have key AI skills, despite one quarter of global workers ranking AI proficiency in the top three most important digital skills to have.

This digital skills gap has led to the wrongful use of the technology. Major companies, including Samsung, have made headlines for having leaked information because employees were unaware of the privacy concerns they should have considered when using ChatGPT.

Upskilling workers to prepare teams for an AI future and giving customers certainty their data is being used sensibly in tandem with the technology will help bridge the AI trust gap.

Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

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