AI laws must ‘support businesses while protecting citizens’, Scottish minister says

Richard Lochhead – who has requested an urgent pan-UK meeting – believes government should avoid ‘unnecessary red tape’

Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

A Scottish Government minister has urged counterparts in Westminster to “have the right regulations in place” and to support the ethical use of artificial intelligence .  

Speaking at the Digital Transformation event held in Edinburgh last week by PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, the Scottish minister for small business, innovation and trade told delegates that governments need to strike the right balance between encouraging businesses to profit from the technology while ensuring the safety of the public.  

Speaking at Holyrood’s event, Lochhead said: “It’s really important that as a government we don’t create any unnecessary red tape, but we do have a duty to create the right supportive environment to allow businesses to do well while keeping our citizens protected.  Again, we are urging the UK secretary of state for science, innovation and technology – who has control over most of the regulatory levers for AI – to ensure the UK government has the right regulations in place and supports ethical AI for the country.”

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Last week in the Scottish Parliament, Lochhead said he was “concerned” and described the UK government’s approach to AI as being “hands off” to this point. He called for an urgent four nations summit on the implications of AI as soon as possible.

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, the minister has commissioned an independent review to set out what Scotland needs to do to maximise the benefits of the technology while controlling the risks.  

The UK government announced that it will lead a global AI summit which will include evaluation of the risks of the technology. Although it is not known what nations will attend the summit, the government said it will “bring together key countries, leading tech companies and researchers to agree safety measures to evaluate and monitor the most significant risks from AI”.

Sam Trendall

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