The House of Lords Select Committee on AI has just released its 181-page report on the need for ethical development of artificial intelligence (AI).  The committee interviewed 57 people and took evidence from 233 witnesses during the making of the report.

Professor Richard Susskind, spoke about the “unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in a small number of corporations” such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Alphabet and Tencent.  They said in their report that this was a “view widely held” among a number of witnesses.

Regulators should review the “potential monopolisation of data” by U.S. technology giants in the U.K. that could hamper home-grown development of artificial intelligence (AI), an influential body has recommended.

The House of Lords committee said that the dominance of large technology firms could hamper development of AI in Britain.

“While we welcome the investments made by large overseas technology companies in the U.K. economy, and the benefits they bring, the increasing consolidation of power and influence by a select few risks damaging the continuation, and development, of the U.K.’s thriving home-grown AI start-up sector,” the report said.

“The monopolization of data demonstrates the need for strong ethical, data protection and competition frameworks in the U.K., and for continued vigilance from the regulators.”

The committee went on to say that the government and the U.K.’s competition watchdog should “review proactively the use and potential monopolization of data by the big technology companies.”

It also said, however, that the UK is in a strong position to be a world leader in technology and in order to ensure AI delivers a major boost to the UK economy, ethics need to be at the centre of AI’s development and use.

Lord Clement-Jones, The Committee’s chairman, said “The UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit and to lead the international community in AI’s ethical development, rather than passively accept its consequences.”

“AI is not without its risks and the adoption of the principles proposed by the committee will help to mitigate these.  An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefit of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse.”

The report also explored the development of AI, the impact on jobs and society and areas such as healthcare and the military.

One recommendation was creating an “AI code” that can be adopted nationally and internationally. The code urges AI to be developed for the common good and says the technology should not be used to “diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.”

“The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence,” the AI code says.

The Committee also recognised that many jobs will disappear with new ones created and said “significant” government investment in skills and training will be necessary to mitigate the negative effects of AI and recommended a growth fund for start ups and companies hoping to develop the technology.

Sue Daley, head of TechUK’s programme for cloud, data, analytics and AI said it was a comprehensive report and commended the committee, calling it an “important contribution to current thinking.”

She went on to say, “If we get the policy and regulatory framework right there is no reason why the UK can’t be a world leader in the development and effective safe use of AI.  Ethics alongside regulation, including new data protection rules, has a key role to play.  2018 should be a year of practical progress that can build confidence and support innovation.”

Dave Palmer, Director of Technology at Darktrace, the cyber security company also gave evidence to the committee.  He says the report brings together the accidental problems of AI, such as bias and safety, and also how it can be deliberately misused by criminals.  He said, “We are witnessing how adversarial AI is taking shape in the form of AI powered cyber-attacks.  Better awareness of the evolving cyber-threat, and of how organisations can arm up with their own AI defences, will be crucial for the UK to maintain its leadership in this space.  This is a broad and comprehensive review on AI and a lot of sensible recommendations have been put forward.  We believe the UK’s science base is second to none and can continue to be the driving force behind breakthroughs in AI.”