Monday, July 22, 2024

UK tech execs want more government oversight of AI

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Research from IT consultancy Zartis shows 72 percent of UK tech executives want more AI regulation, and almost a third (29 percent) want ‘a lot more’.

The study, carried out by Censuswide, surveyed 100 senior technology executives in the UK and finds around 80 percent claim global government coordination of AI regulation is important to their company and 41 percent say it’s very important.

Respondents are happy with current government actions too, 78 percent express satisfaction with the UK government’s current approach to AI regulation, and 43 percent rate it very positively.

However, 38 percent think existing regulations will impede innovation, while 45 percent believe they will ultimately encourage innovation. This division is even more pronounced regarding future AI regulations, with 43 percent believing upcoming regulations will delay or prevent innovation, whereas another 43 percent believe they will encourage innovation. 12 percent are unsure.

“The dichotomy we’re seeing in response to AI regulation is fascinating. On the one hand, we are generally satisfied with the direction in which AI regulation is going globally. On the other, we have a sizable portion of executives claiming both existing and upcoming regulations may harm innovation,” says Michal Szymczak, head of AI strategy at Zartis. “The logical inference from this, as far as I see it, is that it speaks volumes about how much people might prefer solving the safety risks of AI versus innovation. They might be viewing any slowdown in innovation as a necessary evil in the face of the societal calamities they perceive as possible due to AI.”

Progress on the UK’s AI Bill is currently on ice due to the election. If passed, it would establish an AI Authority to monitor the technology’s risks in the country while ensuring existing regulators are aligned in AI safety. While the UK has generally favoured a light-touch, pro-innovation approach to AI regulation, the EU AI Act has far stricter rules.

The EU approach is still viewed positively though, 78 percent agree it will facilitate wider AI adoption (of these, 42 percent somewhat agree and 36 percent strongly agree), while 71 percent think it will achieve better safety and security. Views are less positive on whether EU AI Act will eliminate bias and promote fairness, 28 percent neither agree nor disagree that it will, while 41 percent only somewhat agree.

“The same executives voicing favour of the UK’s approach also seem to be condoning the EU’s methods,” adds Angel Benito, CTO at Zartis. “If anything, it goes to show the eagerness of people to see any government action at all, regardless of the nuances that distinguish the EU’s approach from the UK’s. AI acceleration is in ‘powered flight’ mode. It’s progressing so fast that scarcely anyone can keep track of its developments, and this has likely got many executives concerned, given the ongoing issues AI has posed regarding data transparency, security, and more.”

Find out more on the Zartis blog.

Image credit: VisualGeneration/depositphotos.com

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