1 Lord Udny-Lister debates involving the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology

Advanced Artificial Intelligence

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Monday 24th July 2023

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, for enabling this important and timely debate on a subject which I believe is going to dominate our lives for many years to come and is probably the single most important issue in front of us today. In speaking today, I draw the attention of your Lordships’ House to my declared interests in the register.

From the news that we consume, to the way that we bank, and even the way in which some in this Chamber have prepared for their contributions, AI is now an unavoidable, omnipresent and unstoppable factor in our daily lives. The task for legislators—not just here but across the globe—is to strike the right balance between regulating to protect individuals and businesses and trying to ensure that regulation passed by layman legislators does not supress the incredible innovation enabled by experts and free market demands.

It is universally understood that AI will eventually have a greater economic impact than the industrial revolution once did. Indeed, AI presents itself as the greatest economic opportunity in a generation and will be worth hundreds of billions to UK GDP by 2030. We would therefore be foolish to seek any regulation which scuppered the competitive edge that London and the wider United Kingdom have already established when it comes to the safe, ethical, and innovative application of artificial intelligence.

I therefore put it to your Lordships’ House that the Government have got the balance right in adopting a “pro-innovation” approach to AI. Our renowned universities and research institutions in their active collaboration with industry have driven AI development and continue to enhance the UK’s competitiveness on the global stage. I would be interested to know how the Government will facilitate and support more such collaboration in the near future.

Similarly, our financial institutions are at the forefront of utilising the power of AI for growth, and the UK is harnessing the power of AI to develop more efficient public services and enable lifesaving advancements in healthcare and medicine, as we have heard this afternoon. Does my noble friend the Minister agree that in order to remain a global leader in AI we must never adopt the prescriptive and restrictive approach that was taken by the EU in the passage of the EU AI Act? What analysis have the Government undertaken on the impact this EU legislation will have on the many British companies trading in the EU?

The Government should be highly commended for asserting British prowess and leadership in AI. The recent contributions made by the Foreign Secretary at the UN Security Council last week and the Government’s announcement that the UK will host the first global summit on artificial intelligence show not only that they are taking AI seriously but that they are paving the way for the UK to be a globally significant force for good when it comes to realising the opportunities and confronting the challenges of AI.

As a member of the International Agreements Committee, I turn now to the impact of artificial intelligence on international trade. I welcome the UK’s accession to the CPTPP and the other recently secured trade deals, but I query whether, when it comes to our trading negotiations, we are currently giving enough attention to the implications that AI will have on areas such as regulatory co-operation, digital trade and wider workforce issues. In his summing up today, could my noble friend the Minister reassure the House that, beyond creating and promoting an economy that supports AI development, our negotiation teams are poised to not only embrace the opportunities of AI but actively identify the future threats and challenges that it could pose to the security of our trading relations?

I am conscious of time. I ask the Government to adapt proportionately to the golden thread of future AI regulations, and to be ever mindful of the burden that regulation causes for industry and for the businesses that underpin our economy.

I am confident that if the Government continue along the same path, acting as an enabler, an alliance builder and an industry-informed safeguarder, AI will be an unparalleled opportunity for growth and the making of a modern Britain.