As Artificial Intelligence continues to develop at a rapid pace, the need for regulation is growing just as fast. 

From Blade Runner and The Terminator, to I, Robot and Ex Machina, dystopian films featuring AI robots ‘gone rogue’ have certainly played their part in creating trepidation around AI. But, if we’re to embrace the possibilities it offers as a force for good — of which there are many — we’ll need to have confidence in its safety.

For us to build trust in AI, it’s imperative that there are agreed standards and regulations in place on how it will be used. The British Standards Institution (BSI) is currently working towards designation as an AI-notified body, which will ensure the rights and values of individuals are protected — while at the same time fostering innovation.

Craig Sivall, the Director of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence for the BSI believes that it’s possible to strike a balance between innovation and regulation, and that it’s not a case of one obstructing the other.

Craig Sivall
Craig Sivall, BSI’s Director of Data Science and AI

“I think regulation helps innovation, because ultimately it builds trust,” says Craig. “If you can demonstrate that you adhere to the regulation, and you adhere to the standards, then you’re going to build trust in the product that you’ve created using AI.”

Ensuring that AI regulation doesn’t hinder innovation and the development of the technology is key, but it’s also important to consider public opinion. 

A recent international poll for BSI found that 40% of people are already using AI in their work, and 56% support the use of AI tools in medicine. However, 61% felt there needed to be some sort of international guidelines around its safe use, with 57% saying they felt there should be protection in place for vulnerable consumers. 

The BSI was established in 1901 as the UK’s national standards body; at that point, the first national standards body in the world. Mark Thirlwell, Managing Director of AI Regulatory Services within BSI, explains the key role BSI has to play at this important moment in time.

Mark Thirwell
Mark Thirwell, BSI’s Managing Director of AI Regulatory Services

“When the EU AI Act was announced in April 2021, we recognised the opportunity and the need to play a pivotal role to ensure that people are ready for the incoming legislation,” he says. “This is not regulation for regulation’s sake; it’s regulating a product to make sure that it’s fit for purpose, that it’s safe to be used, and that it’s fair for the individual using it, for organisations and for societies.”

Ensuring the data going in is reliable to begin with, is the number one consideration, says Craig. 

“A big topic of concern is the data set that’s being used to create the output has got some bias,” he explains. “A good example would be that if it’s white, middle class, male, the results that you get off the back of it are going to be tailored towards white, male, middle class.”

Listen to our AI & Big Data podcast, featuring guests Mary-Ann Russon, tech and science Journalist, Ian Simons of the Chartered Insurance Institute and Tia Talks, a grime music artist.
LISTEN: Our AI & Big Data podcast panel guests: Mary-Ann Russon, tech and science Journalist, Ian Simons of the Chartered Insurance Institute and grime music artist, Tia Talks.

Despite the concerns that continue to surround AI, Mark Thirwell firmly believes that AI will be a force for good.

“I got into AI because I truly believe it can be a force for good. It’s not a silver bullet but it has a role in solving some of our most intransigent, difficult problems… like climate change, social inequality. There will be disruption in the labour market, but this is about augmenting people with the right tools to do their job.”

LEARN MORE: Explore the AI & Big Data programme to discover more thought-leader interviews, insights and stories around AI.

Or have a listen to our AI podcast, featuring panel guests Mary-Ann Russon, tech and science journalist, Ian Simons from the Chartered Insurance Institute, and Tia Talks, a grime music artist.