Google UK chief shares approval of AI regulation approach

As Government urges ministers to boost use of AI, Google UK managing director Debbie Weinstein has referred to the country's approach to regulation as 'best in class'

During her first interview since taking on the role of UK managing director at Google last March, Weinstein said that AI regulation white papers published by the government so far is setting a global standard “for an approach that we think can really work”.

Particularly praised were distinctions made between AI capabilities used in apps such as Gmail, and industry-specific use cases for sectors like healthcare and financial services.

With matters such as misinformation and bias to be addressed regarding regulation of artificial intelligence, rising up the agenda since the public release of ChatGPT in November last year.

Current UK guidelines on AI are set out in five key principles — including safety, transparency and accountability — for watchdogs including including the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Ofcom to base monitoring on.

Rishi Sunak lobbying for launch of UK-hosted global AI regulatorPrime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to hold talks with President Joe Biden this week, over a possible global AI research hub and regulator being hosted in the UK.

“It is important to think about the context in which AI lands and having these principles that can be guardrails around how we are preparing to use it in all the different contexts,” said Weinstein.

“But the specific application is governed by each individual expert entity that understands their field.”

With Google currently overseeing a 7,000-employee footprint in the UK, with plans in place to build a new £1bn facility in King’s Cross station, Weinstein went on to state that the corporation has its own guardrails in place to get the balance right between responsibility and growth.

Chancellor urges acceleration of AI adoption

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has called on ministers to speed up adoption of artificial intelligence capabilities, for the purposes of cutting costs and improving public service efficiency.

While John Glen, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has been tasked with researching how to raise public service productivity — with a focus on AI rollouts — Health Secretary Steve Barclay has cited the potential of the technology to increase productivity across the NHS without needing additional resource from human staff.

However, the announced AI adoption strategy faces a race against time, with a possible 2024 General Election coming into focus.

Technology Secretary Chloe Smith recently announced that £54m in government funding has been allocated towards academic research into AI, during London Tech Week, which closely followed related talks between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden in Washington DC.

UK government to invest £250m into AIRishi Sunak believes AI is having as big an effect as the Industrial Revolution.

“Harnessing the potential of transformative technologies like AI is essential for improving public services and boosting business productivity,” said Joanna Reynolds, managing director at SaaS marketing agency Bordeaux & Burgundy.

“Far too many fast-growing companies are operating outdated, manual systems for key functions like marketing, customer relations and sales, when they should be tapping into the latest tech to get ahead of the competition.”

However, with AI planned to be trained on citizen data to power public services, Chris Downie, co-founder and CEO of fraud detection platform Pasabi reaffirmed that safety remained key: “Whilst it’s encouraging to see the chancellor calling for adoption to be accelerated, there should be an equal if not greater focus on safety and alignment.

“In an increasingly dangerous digital world, AI can be used to tackle a myriad of problems such as online fraud, cyber crime and fake reviews, all of which place a huge strain on businesses. In the wrong hands, however, unfettered use of AI by bad actors can cause untold harm to people already vulnerable to scams.

“There isn’t a moment to lose, government  needs to help industry strike the balance between productivity and safety and the sooner we harness the power of key technologies to do so, the better.”


How generative AI regulation is shaping up around the worldWith generative AI developments heating up globally, we take a look at the regulation state of play for regions across the world.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.