UK government issues AI action plan and outlines AI regulatory approaches

The UK government has released an Artificial Intelligence Action Plan describing actions undertaken in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) to implement the National AI Strategy published in September 2021. The plan summarises the progress made across three main pillars: investing in the long term needs of the AI ecosystem; ensuring AI benefits all sectors and regions; and governing AI effectively. The government also presented a policy paper on Establishing a pro-innovation approach to regulating AI which proposes an AI regulatory framework that is context-specific, pro-innovation and risk-based, coherent, proportionate, and adaptable. In the government’s view, AI should be regulated based on its use and the impact it has on individuals, groups, and businesses. Responsibility for designing and implementing regulatory responses should be delegated to regulators, who should focus on addressing issues where there is real evidence of real risks or missed opportunities, while encouraging innovation and avoiding unnecessary barriers. The government also proposes the establishment of a set of cross-sectoral principles tailored to the distinct characteristics of AI, which are interpreted, prioritised, and implemented by regulators within their sectors and domains. Such principles would initially be set out on a non-statutory basis, to maintain an adaptable approach. At the same time, regulators will be asked to consider ‘lighter touch options’ – including guidance and voluntary measures, and to work with existing processes as much as possible (as opposed to creating new ones).