CDEI publishes roadmap to world-leading AI assurance ecosystem

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation has revealed the necessary steps to develop a world-leading AI assurance ecosystem in the UK.

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) is the government expert body facilitating trustworthy innovation in data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It has now created a roadmap that is essential to constructing a world-leading AI assurance ecosystem in the UK.

Building an AI assurance ecosystem

The roadmap, which was outlined as a commitment in the UK’s National AI Strategy, has been developed after requests from public bodies to construct an ecosystem of tools and services that is capable of detecting and alleviating the variety of threats presented by AI and drive trustworthy adoption. It responds to one of the biggest issues in AI governance identified by international organisations, including the Global Partnership on AI, OECD and World Economic Forum.

Assurance services, such as audit, certification, and impact assessments, are common in other sectors, such as financial services and cybersecurity. These tools make certain that complex products are reliable and compatible with regulation, enhancing organisations’ confidence to invest, as well as providing greater outcomes for consumers. However, currently, assurance services for AI are relatively undeveloped.

Creating a roadmap

The roadmap, which is the first of its kind, brings consistency to a disjointed and nascent ecosystem. It lays out the functions and duties of various stakeholders, and identifies six priority areas for action:

  1. Generate demand for reliable and effective assurance across the AI supply chain, improving understanding of risks, as well as accountabilities for mitigating them
  2. Build a dynamic, competitive AI assurance market that provides a range of effective services and tools
  3. Develop standards that provide a common language for AI assurance
  4. Build an accountable AI assurance profession to ensure that AI assurance services are also trustworthy and high quality
  5. Support organisations to meet regulatory obligations by setting requirements that can be assured against
  6. Improve links between industry and independent researchers so that researchers can help develop assurance techniques and identify AI risks

The UK as a world leader

The CDEI’s novel research highlights an opportunity for the UK to be a world leader in AI assurance. It identifies the prominent role that the UK could play in developing and shaping global technical standards.

On top of this, based on the growth of comparable industries, including the £4bn cyber assurance industry, a developed AI assurance ecosystem has the capability to become a multi-billion-pound industry in its own right, which would unlock vast growth, alongside thousands of job opportunities.

The CDEI foresees that the UK will develop a flourishing AI assurance ecosystem within the next five years, with professional services firms providing a range of services alongside innovative start-ups and scale-ups.

Transforming the economy

Chris Philp MP, Minister for Technology and the Digital Economy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “AI has the potential to transform our society and economy and help us tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time. However, this will only be possible if we are able to manage the risks posed by AI and build public trust in its use. In the National AI Strategy, we committed to establishing the most trusted and pro-innovation system for AI governance in the world and building an effective AI assurance ecosystem in the UK will be critical to realising this mission. I’m delighted to see the CDEI’s roadmap published today, and look forward to working with stakeholders, from standards bodies to professional services firms, to make the vision the CDEI has set out a reality.”

Revolutionising our way of life

George Freeman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, added: “From medical diagnostics to machine learning to climate science, AI is fast becoming key to our economy and society. Next-generation AI computing can deliver superfast decision support software, developing large benefits for industry and public services. The UK is one of the world’s most advanced AI economies, but public trust and data governance regulation are key to ensuring AI systems are effective and trustworthy. Today’s new AI roadmap – the first in the world – sets out how we can establish proper assurance and governance systems to unlock AI’s full potential and develop a truly competitive edge as we build back better.”

Fuelling UK innovation

Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry, concluded: “The UK is starting from a position of strength in the global race to become a world-leader in AI. These steps being taken by the government will help to embed trust in how AI is deployed, and support more businesses across the economy to capitalise on new opportunities. Ensuring we get the right AI governance in place will be essential to realising a pro-innovation UK.”

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