25 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS use of AI under review

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A review of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK’s Public Service is being undertaken by a body that oversees moral and technical issues in the bureaucracy.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) will look at how the increasing uptake of technologically assisted decision-making in the Public Service is affecting service delivery, and whether existing regulations are sufficient to ensure standards are being upheld.

It will examine how autonomous systems are being used to make decisions or solve problems that would otherwise require human intervention.

This includes the use of algorithms in decision-making, which is the subject of a separate investigation by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and the Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit.

The non-departmental CSPL, whose purpose is to advise serving Prime Ministers on ethical standards throughout public life, will also consider whether it is appropriate or in the public interest to use AI-assisted decision-making in particular contexts.

Chair of the Committee, Lord Jonathan Evans said the increasing development and use of data and data-enabled technologies in the Public Service could potentially bring huge advantages in terms of the pace and scale of service delivery.

However, Lord Evans, the former head of the MI5 security service, said there were some major ethical and practical challenges.

He said that, based on its inquiry, the CSPL would produce a set of recommendations to ensure public bodies maintained high standards in AI-assisted services and decision-making.

“It may put forward guidance on best practice or suggest changes to regulations,” Lord Evans said.

London, 1 April 2019

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