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Artificial intelligence must be ‘for common good’

Ethics should be at the centre of the development of artificial intelligence (AI), a parliamentary report has said.

AI should “never” be given the “autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive” people, it adds.

The Lords’ report said the UK has the potential to be a leader in developing AI and called on the government to support businesses in the field.

It also recommended that people be educated to work alongside AI in the jobs of the future.

It said that such education would “mitigate the negative effects” on jobs which are possible as AI develops

Many jobs will be enhanced by AI, many will disappear and many new, as yet unknown jobs, will be created,” the report said.

“Significant government investment in skills and training will be necessary,” it added.

“Retraining will become a lifelong necessity

The House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee’s report – AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able? – concludes that AI “should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity”.

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Analysis by Mark Ward, technology correspondent

The report also warned of the danger of AI becoming dominated by a few big firms.

It named Google, IBM and Microsoft as the current leaders in the field and said there was a danger that the fast-growing industry would be monopolised by those few.

They have amassed huge amounts of data needed to train AI-based systems and “must be prevented from becoming overly powerful” it said.

Despite the stark warning there was no need to create an AI-regulator to rein in those tech giants, said the report. Instead regulators in other industries should be aware of the growing use of AI in their sector, such as insurance, and act accordingly.

It also recommends that more is done to protect people’s data rights and choices in an age of AI.

This could include establishing a voluntary mechanism to inform people when AI is being used.

Lord Clement-Jones, the committee’s chair, said the UK has “a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit” and to lead on international development standards, rather than “passively” accepting the consequences of such development.

“The UK contains leading AI companies… as well as a host of legal, ethical, financial and linguistic strengths. We should make the most of this environment,” he said.

The committee says the adoption of its recommendations would mean the UK is “ready, willing and able to take advantage of AI.”

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