Mon 08 Nov 2021

New UK National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (Al) has flourished, with many universities and organisations using this technology to create new and advanced innovations for public benefit. Al is seen to be the fastest growing deep technology in the world. The development of video camera capsules to diagnose diseases of the digestive tract and the development of new medicine by AI to treat patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder are merely two of many examples of such innovations. These examples illustrate the way in which AI has been developed, specifically in the healthcare industry within Scotland. Nevertheless, there remain concerns about the use of the technology, the potential for bias and a perceived lack of transparency and public trust as the use of Al continues to develop within various industries.

National strategies for AI


The Scottish Government, having regard to the opportunities and concerns raised by AI, introduced Scotland’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy in March of this year. We previously looked at Scotland’s AI Strategy, the main objective of which was to set out a clear and transparent roadmap as to how Scotland would become a leader in the development and use of AI in a trustworthy, ethical, and inclusive manner. The Scottish AI Strategy ensued from extensive consultation with the public, industry, the public sector, and academia.

United Kingdom

The UK Government has now launched the UK National Al Strategy, which outlines a 10-year plan to make the United Kingdom an international AI superpower. The UK Government has stated that AI will become conventional in much of the economy, and action will be now required to ensure that every sector and region within the UK will benefit from this significant transition. The UK Government considers the UK to be well positioned to lead the world over the next decade as a genuine research and innovation powerhouse, a hive of global talent and a progressive regulatory and business environment.

The main objective of the UK National AI Strategy is to guarantee that the UK gets the “national and international governance of AI technologies right to encourage innovation, investment, and protect the public and its fundamental values.” Early next year, the Office for AI aims to create a pro-innovation national position on governing and regulating AI, which will be set out in a White Paper. This approach can be contrasted with that taken at EU level with the European Commission having published a proposal for a draft Artificial Intelligence Regulation in April 2021. The UK Government also intends to work with The Alan Turing Institute, which will update existing guidance on AI ethics and safety in the public sector. Further, they will consider which open and machine-readable government datasets can be published for AI models.

At the same time, the UK National AI Strategy acknowledges the current UK Government consultation on the UK’s future data protection framework - Data: A new direction which is open for comment until 19 November 2021. The consultation encourages views on the role of the data protection framework within the broader context of AI governance. In particular, the consultation examines the role of sensitive personal data in bias detection and mitigation in AI systems, and the use of the term ‘fairness’ in a data protection context.

Looking to the future

There is clearly much going on at present. The UK National AI Strategy will hopefully encourage greater public confidence in the technology and allow AI to continue to prosper throughout the UK whilst being trustworthy, ethical, and inclusive. The new UK National AI Strategy develops further the UK’s strengths, but it also signifies the beginning of a shift for AI in the UK. It recognises the power of AI to increase resilience, productivity, growth, and innovation across both the private and public sectors.

This article was co-written by Manahil Qadir, Trainee Solicitor.

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