The report is a consolidation of the Committee’s inquiry into AI and Robotics, specifically focusing on the implications of robotics and artificial intelligence on the future UK workforce and job market, the extent to which the UK is exploring the benefits of AI and maintaining leadership and the social, legal and ethical issues raised by developments in robotics and artificial intelligence technologies.
Citing the evidence provided to the Committee by experts in the field, including FHI Research Fellow Dr. Owen Cotton Barratt, the Committee acknowledged that while AI has the potential to be transformative to society, Governmental leadership in this area has been lacking.
Google DeepMind, for example, was reported in June 2016 to be working with academics at the University of Oxford to develop a ‘kill switch’; code that would ensure an AI system could “be repeatedly and safely interrupted by human overseers without [the system] learning how to avoid or manipulate these interventions”. In the same month, researchers from Google, Open AI, Stanford University and UC Berkeley in the United States, together published a paper which examined potential AI safety challenges and considered how to engineer AI systems so that they operated safely and reliably.
The Committee referred to oral evidence provided by Dr Cotton-Barratt, that there is a small but growing research community with the intellectual leadership exemplified by the establishment of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford and the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, to recommend the establishment of a standing Commission on Artificial Intelligence, based at the Alan Turing Institute. They additionally recommended the establishment of a RAS Leadership Committee to produce a national strategy on AI and Robotics, and that the Government make a formal recommendation that they will address the digital skills crisis through a Digital Strategy.