An open letter penned by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has called for artificial intelligence (AI) to be recognised as ‘a transformational force for good not an existential threat to humanity’ and has received more than 1,300 signatures.
Some prominent signatories included CEO of Stemettes Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, Professor Luciano Floridi from the University of Oxford and the University of Bologna and Dr Jacqui Taylor, CEO and co-founder Flying Binary and UK smart city tsar.
One of the core assertions of the letter is that, if global standards are implemented, AI could be used to improve ‘every area of life’.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has expressed hopes that UK will become a leader in AI regulation, the with the government set to host the world’s first global summit on AI safety later this year.
The open letter contrasts one circulated in March this year, which was signed by Elon Musk and more than 1,000 other technology experts and urged a six-month pause in the development of AI due to potential risks to humanity and society.
The so-called ‘godfather of AI’, British-Canadian computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton, left his post at Google in May over concerns about the development of AI and to speak more freely about the issue.
Rashik Parmar MBE, CEO of BCS, said: “The technologists and leaders who signed our statement believe AI won’t grow up like The Terminator but instead as a trusted co-pilot in learning, work, healthcare, entertainment.
“One way of achieving that is for AI to be created and managed by licensed and ethical professionals meeting standards that are recognised across international borders.
“The public need confidence that the experts not only know how to create and use AI but how to use it responsibly. Yes, AI is a journey with no return ticket, but this letter shows the tech community doesn’t believe it ends with the nightmare scenario of evil robot overlords.”
Further signatures came from figures across UK think tanks, the University of Manchester, the University of Bath, International Federation for Information Processing (iFIP) and more.
The letter likewise suggested that the “UK can help lead the way in setting professional and technical standards in AI roles, supported by a robust code of conduct, international collaboration and fully resourced regulation” and supported measures to help develop ‘inclusive AI’.
Despite of the optimistic position of the BCS on AI, it has expressed that it supports regulation of AI and measures such as sandboxes, which are safe spaces to test the potential of AI, and the limitation of harmful uses of the technology, rather than AI itself.