Fewer than one in ten UK members of parliament (MPs) believe that existing regulators have the necessary skills or expertise to regulate artificial intelligence (AI), according to new research from Appraise, a non-profit advocacy group for AI policy and professionals.

Despite Rishi Sunak’s push to present the UK as the global centre of gravity for development, announcing it would host the world’s first global AI safety summit this year, data shows that more than two-thirds of MPs (69%) lack confidence in UK regulators.

The research, conducted by YouGov, showed that the lack of confidence is shared within both parties with just 7% of Conservative and 6% of Labour agreeing that existing regulators have the adequate expertise to tackle the dangers of AI. 

Sunak addressed London Tech Week on June 12 about the UK being well placed to act as the global centre for AI, arguing that the UK has proven its ability to manage groundbreaking technology:

“Historically the UK has got it right when we are trying to balance innovation with making sure the new technology is safe for society,” Sunak said.

Sunak expressed a sense of urgency around the UK retaining its position as one of “the world’s tech capitals”.

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However, the study indicated that Sunak’s fellow MPs may not be as enthusiastic about the rush to harness the power of AI. Just under a quarter (23%) of MPs said that they understand the implications of AI and close to half (45%) believe that AI is developing too fast.

“AI is going to be truly transformative for society. Understandably, our government and policymakers are still getting to grips with its implications. But we need more proactivity than a wait-and-see approach,” Aidan Muller, co-founder of the Appraise Network, said.

“We don’t want AI to just be shaped by companies who may prioritise innovation over societal concerns. The health of our democracy is at stake. But also, we don’t want knee-jerk policymaking governed by fear. We’re calling for an informed debate in which all stakeholders can take part,” Muller added.

The EU passed the EU Artificial Intelligence Act last week (June 14), marking the first set of rules for AI governance, which endorsed a blanket ban on live remote biometrics in public spaces as well as the use of predictive policing tools and social scoring systems.