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Review calls for 'data trusts' to help grow artificial intelligence in the UK

New frameworks for sharing data to be used by artificial intelligence (AI) tools should be developed to help grow AI in the UK, a government-commissioned review has recommended.17 Oct 2017

'Data trusts' can help "facilitate the sharing of data between organisations holding data and organisations looking to use data to develop AI", the report from the review (78-page / 1.73MB PDF) said. The government and industry should work together to develop the data trusts, it said.

"To use data for AI in a specific area, data holders and users currently come together, on a case by case basis, to agree terms that meet their mutual needs and interests," the report said. "To enable this to be done more easily and frequently, it is proposed to develop terms and mechanisms for these parties to form, between them, individual 'data trusts' to enable AI to be developed to meet the needs of the parties involved and allow data transactions to proceed with confidence and trust."

"These trusts are not a legal entity or institution, but rather a set of relationships underpinned by a repeatable framework, compliant with parties’ obligations, to share data in a fair, safe and equitable way," it said.

The review, commissioned by the UK government, was carried out by Dame Wendy Hall, regius professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, and Jérôme Pesenti, chief executive of AI company BenevolentTech.

Dame Wendy and Pesenti said that, to boost AI, the government should also "ensure that public funding for research explicitly ensures publication of underlying data in machine-readable formats with clear rights information, and open wherever possible".

In addition, they recommended that a right to engage in text and data mining should be established as a default for published research "where that does not result in products that substitute for the original works".

Further recommendations to increase the number of people skilled in developing AI in the UK were also included in the report from the review, including calls for industry to fund a new Masters programme in AI, and the creation of a new international AI fellowship programme for the UK.

The review also recommended making the Alan Turing Institute the national institute for artificial intelligence and data science, and called on universities to "use clear, accessible and where possible common policies and practices for licensing IP and forming spin-out companies".

New guidance should also be developed by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and Alan Turing Institute to "explain decisions and processes enabled by AI", it said.

"AI businesses would benefit from common, practical guidance on how to provide assurance to the public, customer businesses and regulators," the report said. "There is a risk of confusion and a chilling effect on broad application of AI, if it is not clear how to comply with provisions in relation to AI-supported processes."