Brexit impact on AI development: Mayor of London raises concerns

brexit impact on ai development
© iStock/Chris Wright

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has urged the UK’s next prime minister to devote extra attention to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry after Brexit.

Speaking at AI festival CogX, held as part of London Tech Week 2019, the mayor cautioned that the Brexit impact on AI development could see ongoing research and innovation projects in the sector sidelined once the UK leaves the EU. While overall the UK digital transformation is progressing at pace, Khan raised concerns that the “chaos” occasioned by the ongoing Brexit process had led to stagnation on funding and support for new developments in AI and other technological fields.

Khan said: “As mayor, I want us to continue to lead by example in London to show how we can use AI effectively and to show how it’s possible to bring the public with us, but the truth is that if we’re going to get this right, we must all work together – the AI sector as well as both local and national government. There’s no doubt that as a country we should be much further ahead than we are now; not only in terms of making sure we can make the most of what AI has to offer, but in terms of educating the public, encouraging public debate and preparing for the potential impact on our society.”

London is currently a significant participant in the AI industry, with more than 750 AI companies based in the city. In November 2018 a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was established with the aim of ensuring the rapid technological developments taking place across the UK adhered to ethical and privacy constraints.

Khan added: “A crucial part of making the most of innovation is about embracing AI’s potential and the incredible benefits it can bring to people. Whilst I’m a big advocate for cities to get engaged and motivated to make the most of tech to improve lives, we must also tread extremely carefully. There’s no question that the rise of machine learning and AI in city government – and around the world in general – raises many ethical and privacy issues. It’s crucial that we ensure we secure, rather than undermine, the confidence of local citizens. For people need to have trust in tech if we’re to make the most of it, and this is what we’re setting out to do in London.”

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