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UK government announces the launch of an AI standards hub

Published on 12 April 2022

What does the new artificial intelligence (AI) standards hub mean for businesses seeking to develop AI technologies?

The key takeaway

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office for Artificial Intelligence have recently announced the launch of an artificial intelligence standards hub, which has been developed by the Alan Turing Institute, the British Standards Institution and the National Physical Laboratory. The hub aims to increase the UK’s contribution to the development of AI technical standards globally through a number of specific focus points. 

The background

The UK government set out its national strategy for AI in September 2021 which sought to ensure that the UK adopts an appropriate level of national and international governance to encourage innovation and to protect the public’s and the country’s fundamental values. A key component of this strategy was the publication of a white paper on a pro-innovation position on the governance and regulation of AI and the piloting of an AI standards hub to coordinate the UK’s engagement in AI standards. 
An AI roadmap was subsequently published by the Centre of Data Ethics and Innovation in December 2021, which sets out specific steps to be taken to develop an AI assurance ecosystem, including the development of standards for AI that provide a common language and scalable assessment techniques.

The development

Through the AI standards hub the UK government aims to increase its contribution to the development of AI technical standards globally. In the pilot phase the hub is focussing on a number of specific aspects, which include:

  • growing UK engagement to develop global AI standards by bringing together information about technical standards and development initiatives in an accessible, user-friendly and inclusive way
  • bringing the AI community together through workshops, events and a new online platform to encourage more coordinated engagement in the development of standards around the world
  • creating tools and guidance for education, training and professional development to help businesses and other organisations engage with creating AI technical standards, and collaborate globally to develop these standards, and
  • exploring international collaboration with similar initiatives to ensure that the development of technical standards is shaped by a wide range of AI experts, in line with shared values.

The UK government also published research carried out by Capital Economics on the scale of AI activity in UK businesses and potential opportunities for growth in the next 20 years. The research showed that more than 1.3m UK businesses could be using AI by 2040 and that spending in AI is set to increase, potentially reaching £200bn.

Why is this important?

The standards hub will shape current and future policy in relation to AI and give an indication on how the technology might be regulated and standardised in the future. Companies developing or interested in developing AI should look into using the hub and consider attending the various events in order to help influence the direction of AI regulation in the UK and globally.

Any practical tips?

The Alan Turing Institute are running a number of roundtables ahead of the hub’s launch, which will shape the hub’s activities. This will include discussions over AI standards in the UK. Attendance is important to ensure that the views of as many interested AI developers as possible are heard.