A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation – Law Society response

We’ve responded to the government’s white paper on regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The UK government published a white paper on its "pro-innovation approach" to AI regulation in March 2023. The paper:

  • sets out how the government will support the innovation of AI technologies, and
  • provides a framework for regulation to mitigate any risks

The framework focuses on five principles:

  • safety, security and robustness
  • appropriate transparency and explainability
  • fairness
  • accountability and governance
  • contestability and redress

Although the government does not intend to make this into statutory framework, it is keen to monitor and control risk while encouraging innovation in the sector.

Our view

We acknowledge the potential of AI, but also the challenges it presents to the legal and justice sectors.

We understand its ability to increase access to justice and possibly democratise access to legal services.

However, we are urging the government to adopt a nuanced, balanced approach to the development and application of AI in our sector.

To enable the profession to capitalise on the technologies’ benefits, it’s important to establish a clear delineation of the human role and accountability, and an understanding of high-risk or dangerous capabilities that could lead to significant risks or harms.

We support the pragmatic nature of allowing each regulator to adopt an approach suitable to their expertise and domains.

However, clarity is needed on how discrepancies across sectors and regulators will be mitigated and how our profession can extend services overseas in the face of differing AI legislation across jurisdictions.

Our view

Our key recommendations are:

  • the UK government should introduce a blend of adaptable, principle-based regulation and firm legislation to safeguard societal interests while not impeding technological progression
  • legislation should focus on and clearly define ‘high-risk contexts’, ‘dangerous capabilities’ and ‘meaningful human intervention’ in AI
  • the expertise of the legal profession should be harnessed and recognised in any regulatory approach
  • economic growth should be driven by:
    • providing clarity on procurement practices
    • supporting the role of insurers
    • a clear position on intellectual property
    • targeted support for SMEs
  • public trust must be boosted by:
    • mandatory transparency for the use of AI in government or public services
    • an enhanced disclosure and due diligence system
    • prioritising accessibility
    • ensuring competence
    • emphasising evidence-based performance metrics
  • accountability should be enhanced through regulator-guided appeal mechanisms and an AI officer should be established in legal entities of a certain size or that operate in high-risk areas
  • divergence, duplication and fragmentation should be reduced by ensuring alignment across sectors and internationally
  • the capability regulators and the UK workforce should be built to take advantage of AI opportunities
  • it is crucial that confidentiality and sensitive information is protected in the future regulation of AI and in the use of AI systems

Next steps

The consultation on the white paper closed on 21 June.

Read the full white paper on GOV.UK

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