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Britain unprepared for AI robot future, warn MPs

AI is set to become an increasingly important issue in the coming years, but according to a group of MPs, us Brits are completely unprepared to deal with it.

A report from the Science and Technology Committee – made up of 14 MPs – released on Wednesday warns the UK government that “government leadership in the fields of robotics and AI has been lacking.”

The report claims citizens have not been equipped to deal with a world that relies more and more on artificial intelligence and calls for the creation of a a new ‘Commission on Artificial Intelligence’ at the Alan Turing Institute.

Based at the British Library in London, the new commission would examine the social, ethical, and legal implications of developments in the field of AI.

Related: What is Google DeepMind?

Acting chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Dr Tania Mathias MP, said in a statement: “Science fiction is slowly becoming science fact, and robotics and AI look destined to play an increasing role in our lives over the coming decades.

“It is too soon to set down sector-wide regulations for this nascent field but it is vital that careful scrutiny of the ethical, legal and societal ramifications of artificially intelligent systems begins now.”

Self-driving cars and computer-aided diagnoses for patients were highlighted by the committee as ways in which artificial intelligence has, and is set to, change the way we live.

DeepMindGoogle’s AI-focused DeepMind division is based in the UK

The new report follows the creation of a ‘Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society’, established by some of tech’s major players including Facebook, Microsoft, and Google.

The partnership will consider numerous issues including privacy, safety, and the interaction between AI and people, in order to help ensure artificial intelligence is implemented safely and ethically in the future.

But Dr Mathias says the government should be doing more, adding: “Some major technology companies — including Google and Amazon — have recently come together to form the ‘Partnership on AI’.

“While it is encouraging that the sector is thinking about the risks and benefits of AI, this does not absolve the government of its responsibilities.

“It should establish a ‘Commission on Artificial Intelligence’ to identify principles for governing the development and application of AI, and to foster public debate.”

The report also calls on the government to provide education to ensure citizens have the skills needed to function in a society where AI plays a greater role.

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