Lords call for visa relaxation to boost AI

The UK is in a strong position to be a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), which could deliver a major economic boost for years to come, according to a parliamentary committee.

Artificial Intelligence: House of Lords review
A report on Monday from the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence said that, to achieve its full potential, the industry had to put ethics at the heart of future developments.

Opening up the UK to foreign skills

It also called for changes in the UK immigration system to enable the sector to import talent from around the world.Lord Clement-Jones, who chairs the committee, said, “The UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit and to lead the international community in AI’s ethical development, rather than passively accept its consequences. “The UK contains leading AI companies, a dynamic academic research culture, and a vigorous start-up ecosystem as well as a host of legal, ethical, financial and linguistic strengths. We should make the most of this environment, but it is essential that ethics take centre stage in AI’s development and use. “AI is not without its risks and the adoption of the principles proposed by the committee will help to mitigate these. An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse. “We want to make sure that this country remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop this exciting technology. However, start-ups can struggle to scale up on their own. Our recommendations for a growth fund for SMEs and changes to the immigration system will help to do this.“We’ve asked whether the UK is ready willing and able to take advantage of AI. With our recommendations, it will be.”
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Creating good practice for AI

The report calls for the adoption of an internationally-accepted AI Code to be established, based on five principles: the development of AI for the common good; the operation of AI on principles of intelligibility and fairness; a ban on AI being used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals or communities; the right of all citizens to be educated to enable them “to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically” alongside AI; and a prohibition on AI’s ability “to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings”.The report said significant government investment in skills and training would be necessary to mitigate the negative effects of AI and said individuals needed to be able to have greater personal control over their data and the way in which it is used.In order to enable smaller companies to benefit from AI advances, the Lords recommended the setting up of a growth fund for SMEs and said liberalisation of the visa system was necessary to enable start-ups working in the field to hire the overseas talent they needed.“The government should incentivise the development of new approaches to the auditing of datasets used in AI, and also to encourage greater diversity in the training and recruitment of AI specialists,” said the Lords.“The government should be bold and use targeted procurement to provide a boost to AI development and deployment. It could encourage the development of solutions to public policy challenges through speculative investment.”
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