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Turing response to the House of Lords AI report

We welcome the House of Lords committee report published today, AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?.

The report puts an ethical approach to artificial intelligence at the centre of its recommendations and outlines a convincing roadmap for how we can steer research, innovation and regulation in a way that delivers economic benefits, while safeguarding societal values. It is an important contribution to current thinking at a critical point in the evolution of AI.

Responding to the specific recommendations relating to the Turing in the report, we have the following comments:

  • Fairness and transparency in algorithmic systems

As the national institute, our role is to advance world-class research into data science and artificial intelligence, their applications and implications for society. The recommendations relating to fair and explainable algorithmic systems in the report builds on the commitment the Institute has made to work together with the Information Commissioner’s Office to develop a framework for explaining the decisions, processes and services delivered by AI. We are also a founding partner of the Ada Lovelace Institute, which has within its core remit the anticipation of ethical issues raised by the application of emerging technologies.

  • Skills

One of The Alan Turing Institute’s core aims is training the next generation of AI and data scientists to ensure the pipeline of talent for the future. This includes enabling those from other disciplines to re-orient themselves to AI and applying these skills in more diverse sectors, as modelled in our PhD enrichment scheme. We also welcome the recommendation for co-funding of PhD places between the public and private sector and support the development of ways to improve the diversity of those undertaking PhD training.

  • Potential misuse of AI systems, and an ethical code of conduct

We agree with the statement from the Committee that we are well-placed to advise researchers on the implications of their work and welcome the recommendation for an ‘AI code’. The Institute’s Ethics Advisory Group is at the forefront of our efforts to understand the novel implications of large-scale data science and AI research, and promote research strategies that are ethically sound and socially beneficial.

  • Our role as the national institute for AI and data science

Delivering on our ambitions as the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence is imperative as the Institute grows. We are already establishing a significantly larger research network through the addition of eight new university partners and we are evolving our Fellowship model to be project-driven, reflecting the maturation of our research programmes since we first launched in 2015. We have invested in and grown our in-house team of research engineers and data scientists. In relation to our continuing growth, and in particular our developing network of external partners, we will assess our staffing model as per the committee recommendation.

We support the recommendation that we should coordinate regularly with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, the GovTech Catalyst team, the AI Council and other relevant bodies under the leadership of the Government Office for AI to ensure our activities are appropriately aligned.

  • Turning AI research into commercial impact

One of the goals of the Turing is to apply our cutting-edge theoretical research to real-world problems, generating the creation of new businesses, services, and jobs.  Drawing on our growing network of universities and our links with industry, we will seek to address the challenges of protecting IP while enabling innovation to flourish.

Alan Wilson, CEO

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Read the Turing’s written submission to the House of Lords AI committee.

Find out more about our AI programme.

For media inquiries, contact:

Sophie McIvor, Head of Communications

The Alan Turing Institute

smcivor@turing.ac.uk/ (0)79 6147 9846