The UK government has shuttered an independent AI ethics advisory board with very little explanation or reason given.
The ethics of AI are one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry and regulators alike. The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation Advisory Board had served as a voice for responsible AI development, but its website has been shut down and a notice posted to say “the Board’s terms have now ended.”
The CDEI Advisory Board has played an important role in helping us to deliver this crucial agenda. Their expertise and insight have been invaluable in helping to set the direction of and deliver on our programmes of work around responsible data access, AI assurance and algorithmic transparency.
As the Board’s terms have now ended, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Board for supporting some of our key projects during their time. These include the rollout of our world-leading Algorithmic Transparency Recording Standard which facilitates trusted and trustworthy uses of algorithmic tools in the public sector and then beyond, the delivery of the UK-US Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs) prize challenge that encouraged adoption and innovation in PETs to help solve global challenges, and the design of the upcoming Fairness Innovation Challenge focused on tackling bias in real-world applications of AI systems.
It’s unclear how ethical AI development will be governed moving forward, but Professor Neil Lawrence, Interim Chair and CDEI Advisory Board member, touted the CDEI’s work while it was active:
It has been a great pleasure to support the work of the CDEI as an advisory board member and interim chair. New machine learning technologies are bringing societal change at a scale and speed for which there is no prior precedent. The problem is made more complex because of its fundamentally socio-technical nature. This means that diverse expertise from academia, industry, government and third sector needs to be convened to ensure that the challenges are understood from all perspectives. Policy makers are then faced with the difficult challenge of operationalising this spectrum of advice by integrating it with pragmatism and nuanced understanding of the wider political and economic landscape. It has been an immense privilege to work so closely with the CDEI as they perform this difficult translation. I have been constantly impressed with their synthesis of these ideas into pragmatic policy interventions that have placed the UK at the forefront of the international regulatory landscape.