MPs have expressed concern about the recent “explosion” in artificial intelligence (AI) and have called for the UK to lead the world in developing global standards for the new field.
Former Tory minister Tim Loughton argued that AI could pose the same level of “moral dilemma” as advances in medical technology, while Labour’s Darren Jones said people are “rightly worried” about how it could have an impact on the political process.
Mr Jones, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, asked ministers what steps they were currently taking to “protect” the integrity of elections in the light of artificial intelligence being used to image convincing, creating audio and video sounds.
Former Tory cabinet minister Greg Clark, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, spoke of the need for the UK to “seize the initiative and set out an international approach to standards in AI”.
Science Secretary Chloe Smith, who is replacing Michelle Donelan while she is on maternity leave, said the Government is advancing “our vision of a global ecosystem that balances innovation and the use of AI”.
Their comments came during Science and Technology questions in the Commons.
AI has been on the rise in recent years, with ChatGPT, a form of generative AI, emerging in recent months after releasing a version to the public last year.
Technology experts, including Elon Musk, have urged scientists to halt the development of AI to ensure it does not pose a risk to humanity.
Mr Loughton told MPs: “When advances in medical technology in relation to, for example, genetic engineering raise sensitive issues, we have debates on medical ethics, adapt the legislation and apply strong regulation and oversight.
“The explosion in AI may present the same level of moral dilemma and is open to criminal use, for fraud, impersonation and malicious players such as the Chinese government for example.
“As leaders in AI, what should the UK do to balance safety with opportunity and innovation?”
Ms Smith said the Government recognizes that “many technologies can be dangerous in the wrong hands”, adding: “The UK is a world leader in AI, with the strategic advantage that puts us at the forefront in these developments.
“Now, through the UK’s leadership, including at the OECD and the G7, the Council of Europe and more, we are advancing our vision of a global ecosystem that balances innovation and the use of AI with our shared values, on of course, underpinned by our shared values. , fairness, and democracy.
“Our approach will be proportionate, proactive and adaptable.”
On the threat of AI to the UK’s democratic processes, Mr Jones later asked: “With elections coming up and a general election next year, people are rightly concerned about the videos, the fake images and sounds created by artificial intelligence.
“Can the Secretary of State confirm to the House what steps his department is taking to protect the integrity of our democratic process in that context?”
Ms Smith said the UK already has a “well-developed electoral law regime” that accounts for electoral offenses such as false statements by candidates”, adding: “But we are setting out an approach to AI as well as the regulation current that. which will look to regulators in different sectors to be able to apply the right guidance and we will also add a central co-ordinating function which will be able to look for risks and deal with them flexibly, appropriately and proportionately.”
Ensuring that the UK can benefit from AI, Mr Clark said: “At its best, Britain has been very influential in setting international standards, linking trust with security.
“Does she agree with the chairman of the business select committee (Darren Jones) and myself that the UK should take the initiative now and set out an international approach to standards in AI so that we can reap all the benefits that come from AI to achieve. but make sure we don’t suffer the harms…?
Ms Smith replied: “I think the short answer is yes.”