New UK Initiative to Shape Global Standards for Artificial Intelligence

The Alan Turing Institute has been selected to lead the pilot of a new AI Standards Hub supported by the  British Standards Institution and National Physical Laboratory. Hub is part of the National AI Strategy and will aim to increase UK contribution to the development of global AI technical standards. New research finds more than 1.3 million UK businesses will use AI by 2040 and spending on AI is expected to reach more than £200 billion by the same date. 

The new AI Standard Hub will create practical tools for businesses, bring the UK’s AI community together through a new online platform, and develop educational materials to help organisations develop and benefit from global standards. It will help put the UK at the forefront of this rapidly growing area.

The Hub will work to improve the governance of AI, complement pro-innovation regulation and unlock the enormous economic potential of these technologies to boost investment and employment.

BSI, the UK National Standards Body, and NPL, the country’s national metrology institute, will share their world-class expertise in developing standards and research to deliver the pilot with The Alan Turing Institute, the national institute for data science and AI. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office for AI (OAI) back the Hub. 

The move kicks off one part of the UK’s new National AI Strategy, a ten-year plan to strengthen the country’s position as a global science superpower and “harness AI to transform the economy and society while leading governance and standards to ensure everyone benefits”.

New research published today predicts that the use of AI by businesses will more than double in the next twenty years, with more than 1.3 million UK businesses using artificial intelligence by 2040. 

It shows that in 2020, UK businesses spent around £63 billion on AI technology and AI related-labour, and this is expected to reach more than £200 billion by 2040. 

The huge potential of AI technologies to power new firms and revolutionise old ones with improved productivity and more flexible ways of working demonstrates the need for tools to govern its development, ethics and use, including through globally developed technical standards. The UK is already successful in this field. According to Tech Nation, the UK now has more than 1,300 AI companies – a 600 per cent increase in the number of firms over the last decade. In the same period, venture capital investment rocketed from $120 million to more than $3.4 billion in 2020. 

In its pilot phase, the new Hub will focus on: 

  • Growing UK engagement to develop global AI standards by bringing together information about technical standards and development initiatives in an accessible, user-friendly and inclusive way.
  • Bringing the AI community together through workshops, events and a new online platform to encourage more coordinated engagement in the development of standards around the world. 
  • Creating tools and guidance for education, training and professional development to help businesses and other organisations engage with creating AI technical standards, and collaborate globally to develop these standards.
  • Exploring international collaboration with similar initiatives to ensure the development of technical standards are shaped by a wide range of AI experts, in line with shared values.

Ahead of the pilot’s launch, a series of roundtables with a wide range of organisations led by The Alan Turing Institute will shape the Hub’s activities. 

The move follows the launch of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation’s (CDEI) ‘roadmap to an effective AI assurance ecosystem’, which is also part of the National AI Strategy. The roadmap sets out the steps needed to develop world-leading products and services to verify AI systems and accelerate AI adoption. Technical standards are vital for enabling effective AI assurance because they give organisations a common basis for verifying AI.