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UK parliamentary committee opens inquiry into AI

The economic, ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence (AI) are to be assessed by a UK parliamentary committee.20 Jul 2017

The Lords' Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence said its inquiry will focus on issues such how AI's development is influenced by the pace of technological change, the public's perception of AI, and the sectors most and least likely to benefit from it, as well as AI's impact on society.

The Committee will also look at "the data-based monopolies of some large corporations", the role of government in supporting AI, and the work being undertaken internationally on deploying AI, it said.

Stakeholders have been encouraged to submit evidence to help inform the inquiry. The call for evidence (4-page / 190KB PDF) is open until 6 September.

Lord Clement-Jones, chairman of the Committee said, "This inquiry comes at a time when artificial intelligence is increasingly seizing the attention of industry, policymakers and the general public. The Committee wants to use this inquiry to understand what opportunities exist for society in the development and use of artificial intelligence, as well as what risks there might be."

"We are looking to be pragmatic in our approach, and want to make sure our recommendations to government and others will be practical and sensible. There are significant questions to address relevant to both the present and the future, and we want to help inform the answers to them. To do this, we need the help of the widest range of people and organisations," he said.

The committee is due to report on its findings from its inquiry by 31 March 2018.

As part of its digital strategy announcement, the UK government has commissioned a review into "how industry and government can create the conditions for the artificial intelligence (AI) industry to continue to thrive and grow in the UK". The AI review will "consider the core challenges such as skills and access to talent, access to data, and access to finance and investment", it said at the time.

Last year, a committee of MPs called on the government to set up a new Commission on Artificial Intelligence to "examine the social, ethical and legal implications of recent and potential developments in AI". The government subsequently confirmed that it would consider setting up a new centre to support robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) technologies.