Regulating Artificial Intelligence

I have great news for the government. All the bad things that Artificial intelligence could bring are already crimes. They can be prevented or prosecuted just as their less technically sophisticated versions can be. Theft or fraud by a computer programme is theft or fraud by the person who set the computer up to it. Misrepresentation or libel of an individual is every bit as much a crime if nominally done by a computer, where a person will remain the criminal for putting the computer up to it.

Artificial Intelligence will be a series of crucial  breakthroughs in computing power. It has been in development for a decade or more. First a computer programme could beat a Grand Master at Chess. More recently a computer won at GO against a great player in this more complex of games. Computers can now take instructions in English and convert them into computer software or into extensive and rapid searches of vast data banks as they seek to provide a good reply at lightning speed. Many more people will come to have an assistant with access to great data, capable of sifting, searching and selecting from it to help the human boss. The UK should indeed try to create the conditions where we can play host to many companies pioneering these exciting developments.

This is where the Retained EU laws Bill has a crucial role to play. This allows the UK to return to common law, where anything is permitted unless the common law says it is prohibited. The EU Code Napoleonic model needs the law to specify what you are allowed to do. This is far less flexible and can badly impede innovation. It is difficult to know exactly what AI will be able to achieve or how it will achieve it in the next few years. Applying the common law to prevent crimes and abuse but not laying down in advance what is permitted is the best approach. The US which is the outstanding world leader in AI, the  Cloud, social media and software uses a common law system which helps build its advantage over the EU and other code based legal systems. One of the things that most worried me when I was the UK’s Single market Minister was the way the EU produced much detailed product and process regulation which specified a way of doing thigs leaving other ways and innovative ways outside the permitted law. It is a system designed to defend existing large companies against competitive challenge, leading to slower growth and ageing activity compared to the more dynamic USA. The EU has no Microsofts, Alphabets, Apples or Amazons of its own as a result.


  1. formula57
    June 21, 2023

    There are tides in the affairs of men and certainly “Artificial Intelligence will be a series of crucial breakthroughs in computing power” yet as I saw posted somewhere this is not the future that was envisaged, with computers writing poetry and playing games and people doing menial jobs for minimum wage.

    Your colleague Kemi’s record shows she will not be up to freeing us from the dead hand of Evil Empire regulation though, will she?

    1. hefner
      June 21, 2023

      AI or more properly Machine Learning has been around for about ten years with applications in medicine, analysis of genome sequencing, oil and gas retrieval, urban planning, stock market trading, meteorology, many applications in image recognition (defence), … TMALSS any domain dealing with huge datasets.

    2. graham1946
      June 21, 2023

      I can remember back in the 1950’s when computers and machines (automation it was called then) were going to do all the menial tasks and we would have endless leisure to do things we wanted and money to spare. That never happened. Then came mainframe computers and we were assured that paper would be obsolete. When my firm introduced one in the seventies the paper increased and was taken from the computer suite (had to be air conditioned and all that which we humans never got) on a sack barrow and dumped so the paperless office didn’t happen. The accounts department boomed from half a dozen with old style calculators that churned out figures in more time than a human needed, to a massive dept., the biggest in the firm. In the fifties we were promised that nuclear power would be plentiful and too cheap to meter. That never happened. So please excuse the scepticism of my addled old brain, when I say, it ain’t going to be like the scientists say. These things are always a disappointment.

  2. Mark B
    June 21, 2023

    Good morning.

    This allows the UK to return to common law, where anything is permitted unless the common law says it is prohibited. The EU Code Napoleonic model needs the law to specify what you are allowed to do.

    This was the main reason I believed that the UK should Leave the EU. We are simply a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Of course the Napoleonic Code is a boon to government and CS’s as it means that, you have to have the right paperwork for either this or that and, as a consequence, this comes at a price. It also, as our kind host alludes to, allows big business to game the market and create rules and regulations that stifle competition leading to cartels and high prices for consumers.

    Away from the EU I always believed that this country would indeed flourish prosper. Sadly, due to the disgusting behaviour of both our government and members of Parliament, BREXIT has been hobbled and fulfilled the wish of the ex-German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to stop the UK and BREXIT from being a success.

    I often look back and wonder what was the point of our forebears fighting two World Wars ?

    1. Cuibono
      June 21, 2023

      You are right.
      There was no point because what they thought they were fighting for, what they were TOLD they were fighting for was patently a lie.
      Sadly though, as we saw recently, people still fall for establishment untruths.
      And they always do as they are told ( in some cases with an eye to the main chance).

    2. Shirley+M
      June 21, 2023

      Well said, Mark. I also believe the majority of politicians think nothing of destroying our democracy, our country and our future. Their actions demonstrate this daily!

    3. Donna
      June 21, 2023

      The figures are in and despite Bailey’s series of interest rate increases, inflation was stuck at 8.7% in May. So that will lead to another rate increase next month; more misery for those people who were foolish enough/conned into taking out massive mortgages based on 5 x income and interest rates of 2%.

      Sunak’s pledge to halve inflation from the high of 11.1% isn’t going too well. About as well as his pledge to stop the boats with the number of criminal migrants this year running only slightly below last year’s invasion level.

      He’s going to need a Hail Mary pass or two to avoid Not-a-Conservative-Party Armageddon in 2024.

      I have a suggestion for him: how about ditching the Net Zero lunacy, sacking Bailey and implementing some conservative policies. If Schwab will permit it, of course.

      1. formula57
        June 21, 2023

        And RPI for May was 11.3 per cent. and debt is 100 per cent. of GDP for the first time since 1961. Is this not Corbynomics territory or beyond?

    4. Denis+Cooper
      June 21, 2023

      But we don’t have to immediately and indiscriminately dump all the UK laws which originated from the EU, all of them are now UK laws like any other UK laws and we can amend/repeal each of them as and when that is required. Those which are causing problems at any time are the obvious candidates for replacement in a careful measured process. There could be an annual exercise in which the public were asked for their suggestions. I believe support for Brexit has actually been diminished by the government’s perceived recklessness over this.

      1. iain gill
        June 21, 2023

        most laws are a complete and utter waste of time. the only people who can use them are people with significant wealth, or who are being supported by the public purse. the state regulators who are supposed to enforce the laws have pretty much given up, a classic example being the information commissioners office which always was bad at using the law to enforce compliance in the most extreme cases of abuse, now openly says it will do little but send the offending party a letter telling them off, and leave the public to try and raise the money for a court case. we have the financial ombudsman service openly behaving in the most appalling ways possible. masses of people on the public sector payroll supposedly to enforce laws which they have pretty much given up doing.

      2. Mark B
        June 21, 2023

        Some, but not all EU regulation come via international bodies. eg WTO. But in the past the EU sat on some of these in our place and we had to stand outside the room and hope we the UK got a good deal. Trouble was, the French and the Germans would work together to make sure they were catered for and we just had scraps. Now we sit on the Big Tables in our own right and, hopefully, act in our own national interest.

    5. Michelle
      June 21, 2023

      A million +++
      Your last question is one many of that generation were asking a long time ago.
      It seems the whole point was to hobble the future generations, curtail their freedoms and hand over everything to Corporations.
      I’m not sure the deliberate dismantling of their centuries of culture, customs, history was a driving force to keep them going through very dark times. That’s what they ended up with though.

    6. Ian B
      June 21, 2023

      @Mark B 100% agree

    7. James Freeman
      June 21, 2023

      Concerning Brexit and Common Law, me too.

      Unfortunately, this approach did not filter through to the government in its response to Covid. The disastrous results and widespread non-compliance with the top-down prescriptive laws are apparent. Sadly, most people are not accepting this and are still trying to find ways to get the authoritarian approach to work—the same with net zero and the retained EU laws.

    8. Sharon
      June 21, 2023

      Mark B

      Hear, hear! Napoleonic law is not particularly democratic. It’s too prohibitive.

    9. Ken L
      June 21, 2023

      Mark B. I totally agree with everything you say. The EU’s Napoleonic regulatory culture is a ‘Guilty Unless Proven Innocent’ system of regulation unlike the UK’s traditional common law system which is essentially an ‘Innocent Unless Proven Guilty’ regulatory culture. The EU system, by its inherent nature, treats all people and businesses as threats to be controlled. It prioritises regulatory process and treats regulatory outcome and effectiveness as either secondary or irrelevant. By definition it cannot be anything other than overbearing and intrusive. This has two effects:

      1. Politicians and bureaucrats who create the rules are, to a large extent, insulated from any fallout if they get it wrong. (No wonder the political establishment in the UK is so reluctant to implement changes to current regulatory culture)

      2. There is a tendency for those that have to abide by these regulations to feel that they have been made into targets to be monitored and penalised at all times. (Current and ongoing extreme shortage of lorry and bus drivers is ample evidence of the effect that this can have)

      So you are absolutely correct when you say that escaping from the stifling effect of EU regulatory culture was the main reason for leaving the EU and absolutely correct, also, in believing that that the UK can and should flourish and prosper as a trading nation outside the EU. This country is very capable of leading the world by example. Unfortunately our current crop of politicians (with a few notable exceptions) are deliberately thwarting it.

    10. Lemming
      June 21, 2023

      “This allows the UK to return to common law, where anything is permitted unless the common law says it is prohibited”. Alexa, show me a sentence which proves the writer hasn’t got the first idea what the common law is or does

  3. margaret
    June 21, 2023

    More regulation , more writing at the bottom to tells us we have read the small print and agree to it (and we all do don’t we) more giving ourselves away ,our thought processes , our artistic flair, our ability to create new thinking out of the pixels . The fear that it will create mental laziness hovers . We are already dependent on much by typing in a few words. I use computers and soft wear programmes in medicine daily , but when it goes down .. what chaos!
    I actually like the idea of robotics and AI to help me solve daily problems and work for me , but that is because I have lived and know another way, What about those who will completely rely on AI in generations to come?

  4. turboterrier
    June 21, 2023

    The long slog begins with the criminal minds turning AI into the greatest making money tool in their long history of their existance.
    It also I feel will not bode well for the future employment markets as unscrupulous employers will take full advantage of the opportunities.

  5. Bloke
    June 21, 2023

    Laws based on Don’t are better.
    However, who is to blame for an outcome may be vague.
    If someone loses life from the use of a blade, who is guilty?
    The inventor of the brand?
    The manufacturer?
    The advertiser?
    The purchaser?
    The shopkeeper who sold it?
    The delivery company?
    The owner?
    The train driver who caused the victim to be where they were at the time?
    The doctor holding the scalpel trying to save the patient?

  6. Sakara Gold
    June 21, 2023

    The military are fascinated by the prospect of embedding real-time AI into weaponry such as hypersonic missiles, ballistic missile defence (highly destabilising) and particularly, it’s use in organised warfare strategy. This is why many working in this field are concerned at the ability of AI to beat us at our own games.

    AI also opens the prospect of designing new wonder drugs to cure human ailments, using astrophysics data from the latest advanced telescopes to rapidly identify technosignatures from extraterrestrial civilisations, solving the faster than light travel barrier problem to visit them and solving the problem of efficiently transitioning to renewable energy systems to save the planet from runaway global heating. AI will have many applications

    A major problem is going to be that AI robots are going to make billions of job holders redundant, as computers learn to do their jobs more efficiently. The disruption to society caused by the industrial revolution comes to mind.

    1. Mike Wilson
      June 21, 2023

      The disruption to society caused by the industrial revolution comes to mind.

      The industrial revolution increased work.

  7. Gabe
    June 21, 2023

    I am sure the AI and its developers will usually be well ahead of the intelligence and effectiveness of the government regulators.

  8. Cuibono
    June 21, 2023

    I’m very glad that AI is deemed capable of committing a crime.
    It is really quite disturbing trying to converse with an AI “assistant” on those “Chat” things.
    The very best they can do is hand you over to a living, breathing “colleague”.
    And look at the way this website was effectively closed down the other day!
    The utter ludicrous hubris of shutting down physical banks etc!!

  9. Roy Grainger
    June 21, 2023

    Sunak has already told us he wants the UK to lead the world in AI regulation. Not lead the world in AI technology you’ll notice – he’s leaving that to USA, Japan, China etc. – but only in AI regulation where his main competitor for restrictive anti-growth decrees will be the EU.

    On a related point I see lots of academic and other AI experts telling us that AI will kill us all (and the press are happy to amplify this scaremongering). This is a typical tactic of consultants to get work – scare your client so they will shovel money in your direction. Professor Ferguson was another example of this tactic during Covid.

  10. Cuibono
    June 21, 2023

    Just try looking up a contentious matter.
    Generally based on left/right opinions.
    HAL always comes down on the Left side.
    This means that the unwary will swallow dogma rather than read and assess facts.
    AI is not a good or exciting thing IMO.
    And the way the powers that be have trashed books is no surprise.

  11. Cuibono
    June 21, 2023

    Re JR tweet
    I have witnessed the attack on landlords.
    They were lured into landlordship and then betrayed ( a very familiar tactic).
    But why? Were they set up purposely as cash cows?
    Enticed into improving the housing stock and then cheated out of their work?
    Or govt. just can’t resist an easy tax target?
    Now they can’t rent, sell or possibly afford to maintain an empty house.
    Did govt. always plan to hoover up “free” homes for newcomers?

  12. dixie
    June 21, 2023

    “It has been in development for a decade or more.”
    Try 8 decades, beyond the lifetime for many, changing names and the original drivers have largely been forgotten from the 60’s when child development, kid-friendly computing and AI were the big factors in computing development. From those areas we have inherited the user oriented computing environments desktop and GUI interfaces, object based programming. Perhaps we have come full circle in a way – getting ChatGPT to write your homework or legal case.
    I agree with your points, regulation of AI etc will always be a pretence and the focus should instead be, as always, on the bad actors rather than the technology they might use.
    But governments are unfailingly bad at controlling bad actors without significant damage to the peaceful and law abiding.

  13. Donna
    June 21, 2023

    I’m quite glad I won’t be around to see the consequences, in 40 years or so, of the Brave New World they’re creating.

    Unfortunately, since we haven’t really left the EU (vast swathes of policy are still controlled by the Napoleonic Code, the ECHR and other international law we were foolishly/treacherously signed up to) the potential benefits of Common Law won’t apply to AI, or a great deal else.

    The EU Retained Law bill is intended to retain the EU’s law ….. not dispense with it.

  14. Denis+Cooper
    June 21, 2023

    We went over this with automation when I was at school, and I’m not too worried about it.

    1. glen cullen
      June 21, 2023

      I am also not worried about technology or AI, but I’m worried about how our government will regulate it

  15. Javelin
    June 21, 2023

    Rishi Sunak has a vested interest in stopping AI. His father’s business model is to employ a lot of relatively low skilled programmers to write boiler plate code. AI could reduce his wealth by billions.

    Rishi needs to recuse himself from AI debate because his wealth is dependent on it being heavily regulated, even though it would benefit the UK by cutting the cost of cheap Indian labour.

    1. Javelin
      June 21, 2023

      PS I have a degree called “Psychology with computer models” from Uni of Sussex in 1988 – which was about simulating psychology, such as language and vision, using computer models, such as neural networks. This degree covered modern AI, even more than degrees in AI at the time. I ended up at the MIT science park for a couple of years doing AI.

      My “hobby” since then has been to develop an electromagnetic theory of consciousness based on how slow moving electric fields would behave in modern nano technology at the same scale as neural components. My conclusion is that Consciousness is a physical phenomena that is orthogonal to intelligence.

  16. Richard1
    June 21, 2023

    The govt should focus not on making the U.K. the centre of AI regulation but the centre for AI innovation and competition. Apart from anything else the last thing the U.K. (or the world) needs is more useless self-regarding U.K. civil servants in any way ‘in charge’ of this hugely exciting technological development. We’ve seen numerous examples of quite how hopeless our administrative state is. The Bank of England has turned into a (very unfunny) joke. The administration of covid measures was disastrous (with the exception of the vaccines which was outsourced to private, non-civil service personnel). Whether it’s driving licenses, tax collection, manning the borders or negotiating Brexit, our administrative state delivers us a terrible service for far too much money, don’t let it get its hands on AI!

    But do take advantage of the EU looking at AI as the medieval church did the printing press to make the U.K. a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.

  17. Ian B
    June 21, 2023

    Sir John

    There appears to be some misplaced conclusions on ‘Artificial intelligence’. It is just other peoples published output using natural language to regurgitate a response – Data Modelling. If the answer hasn’t been published on the internet it cant be intelligently thought out.

    It is great in creating software routines, think about it Microsoft among its big collection of purchases now owns ‘GitHub’ an open source repository for software help and idea.

    All data used in creating this so-called IA is scrapped from the Web. In a UK context all data collected here is removed from the UK and is outside of UK legal jurisdiction to how it is used. So there can’t be control all the while the Government peruses their overriding desire to Control People by loose security and clumsy theories.

  18. James Freeman
    June 21, 2023

    Having entered the workforce as a manager, then professional 30 years ago, I was the first generation to lose out on not having a Personal Assistant (PA). So I have had to write documents and memos on my own with the help of a word processor and communications via email.

    Despite all this help, I still have had to proofread documents, carry out basic research and organise meetings. My dyslexia has made some of these tasks arduous. I welcome AI as it will fill in the remaining gaps of work previously carried out by a PA but foisted on professionals like myself.

    It is even better for workers who never would have had a PA but can now operate more professionally, thus adding more value to the workforce.

  19. Mike Wilson
    June 21, 2023

    This allows the UK to return to common law, where anything is permitted unless the common law says it is prohibited.

    So, yes, common law would mean that it would be illegal to create a robot and program it to kill people. But, and this is the whole point, the worry is that if Artificial Intelligence is advanced enough the robot might make its own decision to kill people. At which point it will be hard to prove where the blame lies.

    We must be aware of the dangers and regulate them. No offence, Mr. Redwood, but I think Elon Musk knows a bit more about this.

    Reply. Not so. The robot would be created and set up by someone who would be responsible for its conduct. The knife is not the killer but the person who wields the knife.

  20. Ian B
    June 21, 2023

    Sir John

    It is amusing that Countries that adopted English Common Law as their principles of Government are far more advanced, flexible and free(also as a rule wealthier) than we are in the UK. They are also far more Democratic.

    The trouble now after 40 years of brainwashing we have a generation that is only comfortable if they are corralled in to bureaucratic nightmare of constraint by the unelected and unaccountable. It could be reasoned and I perceive that it is a wish of this Conservative Government in them taking their directions from the ‘Blob’ to ensure that the idea of a Democratic Parliament is just at best a token.

    Parliament has lost its role and MP’s are surplus, they(MP’s) as a rule refuse their responsibility. Its a bit like a Monarchy, Magna Carta all window dressing for the tourists something that had its roots here but is now just window dressing.

    1. Norman
      June 22, 2023

      Not entirely true as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark all seem at least as well-governed as the UK. If the UK hadn’t joined the EEC in c.1973 I doubt any of them would have joined either. We’d still have an EFTA.

      It took ‘the COVID period’ for me to wake up to the real nature of the EU, i.e. the aim of its founders 70 years ago was centralised, corporate-led power and they’ve got it. Probably a lot of British people and even former MEPs were fooled by it.

  21. agricola
    June 21, 2023

    Any great leap forward from the longbow to harnessing atomic energy has its pluses and minuses. AI will be exactly the same. It will be a great solver of problems. Banks and large commercial organisations already hide behind their computers. They are there to take your money but as soon as there is a problem they are uncontactable. Thank god for Wikipedia who usually know who the CEO is and where he is hiding. AI will make these organisations even less accessible unless someone decides there is a profit in accessability.
    The criminal element will love it. As you say the laws are there but who is successfully combatting computer fraud. AI could of course be used to block all the abuse on chat apps, and to recognise fraud before it gets to none savvy granny and removes her life savings. It might do a better job moderating this diary by not running from fact.
    AI would do a better job at removing EU law from our statute book than the current incumbents of government. 700 laws out of thousands left ready for re- alignment with the EU convinces nobody. Try one of your ministerial letters and we can all have a laugh af the reply. Here’s a thought, AI could replace all of the Whitehall civil service and have a stratopheric effect on productivity. Likewise MPs, no more drunken parties, and decisions effected daily following endless referendums. Even George Orwell would be speechless at the possibilities.

  22. glen cullen
    June 21, 2023

    Something else like climate change that doesn’t exist; quick let create a parliamentary committee, a quango, a law, a regulation, and let spend billions, lets align with international bodies, lets lead the world with a conference, lets fund universities and the UN to investigate AI

  23. glen cullen
    June 21, 2023

    I just wish this Tory government would stop intervening in the society, in the community, in the economics, and in industry where it doesn’t belong, were it should rely upon consumer choice, market forces and business ….they could do a lot more by doing a lot less

  24. Ian B
    June 21, 2023

    Sir John
    Others elsewhere are on a similar track today
    ‘Britain has forgotten that regulation does not create wealth – it destroys it
    We should aim to become an AI superpower rather than its global regulator’

    The British administrative class, made up of civil servants, think tanks, academics and staff at industry bodies, remains oblivious to the fact that they are very bad at regulation’

    We need a Government any Government that gets back to the basics of ‘managing’ the UK for the people of the UK, those that empowered them in a democratic election and then pay them to do their job. The self gratification and ego that is on display so as to allow them keep refusing their job is just embarrassing.

  25. oldwulf
    June 21, 2023

    ” ….or into extensive and rapid searches of vast data banks as they seek to provide a good reply at lightning speed.”

    Hopefully, this will mean a vast improvement in the answers you receive to your Parliamentary questions.

  26. Peter Parsons
    June 21, 2023

    “I have great news for the government. All the bad things that Artificial intelligence could bring are already crimes.”

    I’m afraid not, and this is a reason why technology legislation is a problem when it is made by people who don’t understand technology (see the arguments over enforced backdoors into messaging solutions which use end to end encryption as an example of just how little some politicians understand technology and the wider consequences of their suggestions).

    Increasingly, businesses (and others) will start to use these AI-based systems to make decisions relating to their customers. The outputs of such systems is only as good as a combination of the algorithms they are built on and the training data provided to them (Garbage In, Garbage Out as we know it in the tech sector).

    Bad training data produces bad systems and bad outcomes, and this is where the common law approach falls down (as it already has on a number of occasions in the USA, where some police forces used an AI-based system which had been trained on data which was subsequently shown to have an inherent racial bias and, guess what, produced racially biased outputs). If the training data isn’t regulated, it isn’t illegal, but will still produce those bad or unfair outcomes. Turned down for a loan? The AI said “no”. What if the AI said no because its training data had an inherent bias towards some of your characteristics as an individual (age, gender, post code etc.)? Where’s the come back for the individual treated unfairly in that situation?

    The common law approach has led to, as it is described in the industry, “data being the new oil”. To put it another way, “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” (see what pretty much any social media platform does with your information as an example of this). The only safe choice currently in many cases is to opt out. To not use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever, since, under common law, organisations have been able to do pretty much what they like with your personal information.

    To suggest that the common law approach is always the best way ignores the negative consequences that can occur when an industry is consistently ahead of the regulators.

    1. formula57
      June 21, 2023

      @ Peter Parsons – could not a common law system hold persons (real or corporate) using training data that broke anti-discrimination laws to account?

      1. Peter Parsons
        June 22, 2023

        The examples from the USA would suggest not. The companies that sold the systems based on flawed, biased data have not been prosecuted for doing so. The challenge would be how to make a law not designed or intended to cover training data sets for AIs apply to those training data sets. That sounds like it would be a field day for lawyers.

        To offer a previous, real world, example of how this can be a challenge under a common law system, look at upskirting and how that needed specific, new, legislation (despite the efforts of Christopher Chope to stop it) in order to make it an offence that can now be prosecuted under UK law.

        1. Peter Parsons
          June 22, 2023

          This is a downside of common law systems. The law is always behind and playing catchup, and, until ithe law does catch up, there are things that are legal even if generally considered to be undesirable.

  27. Bert+Young
    June 21, 2023

    Innovation has a major effect on the world today and we dare not ignore all the implications of this . It all boils down to the capability of man and how he reacts to opportunity and the challenges around him . One thing is for sure – development and change will continue . Keeping abreast of change has a lot to do with leadership , inspiration and investment .

  28. peter
    June 21, 2023

    Don’t worry at all about this! Just as with crypto currency the Government is so far behind what is happening it will all be too late.

  29. Derek
    June 21, 2023

    Given the existing Government MO for self regulation, will they now propose that AI regulates AI?

  30. Derek
    June 21, 2023

    That the EU, under its protectionist polices, all but bans innovation, surely is evidence of the not-so sweet scent of the USSR’s practises of yesteryear? So it is not so inaccurate to rename them the EUSSR, I think.
    What with their dictatorial approach to governing and their distinct lack of democracy at the top, we were absolutely right to LEAVE to make our own way into the future.

  31. Cuibono
    June 21, 2023

    Doubt if the govt. is remotely interested in “good news”.
    They are too busy shovelling $$$ BILLIONS to “Ukraine Recovery”
    You’d be forgiven for thinking that the backers are buying Ukraine not setting it back on the road to national recovery!

    1. glen cullen
      June 21, 2023

      …are the funds conditional on a Ukraine net-zero plan ?

  32. Atlas
    June 21, 2023

    AI, hmm. This has been just around the corner since Alan Turing first thought about this in the late 1940s. Move on to 1984 and the UK Government’s Alvey report where AI was discussed as being imminent. Now in 2023 we have the latest incarnation of hope… Yes, computing power has increased markedly over the years but the intrinsic problem eludes such size scaling – so don’t hold your breath.

    As Sir John says, existing common law covers many matters related to AI, and Issac Asimov’s writings on the ‘Three Laws of robotics’ written back in the 1940s are a good foundation for further thought.

  33. XY
    June 21, 2023

    We have a body of 650+ people + the HoL whose time is dedicated to making/changing laws. Is it any surprise that we end up with so many laws?

    And when 600+ of the 650 know very little about much of anything, especially the subjects they deal with in their role as MPs, ministers etc… is it any surprise that we get so many bad laws enacted?

    When they know nothing, they focus on law-making in areas that are easy to do – banning things is easy. Understanding things is not.

    1. glen cullen
      June 21, 2023

      In their defence many are engaged in second jobs and the others are busy trying to create careers outside of parliament ….or writing books ….or on an all party group investigative trip to a sunny country

  34. Iain gill
    June 21, 2023

    In English English the word for executable code is program, some of our foreign friends spell it differently.
    Programme is a set of projects, whether in computing or some other field.
    Sorry to be picky John, but people talk down to me constantly and this is one of the many mistakes that kind of person makes repeatedly.

    1. iain gill
      June 21, 2023

      One of the reasons I am sensitive about this, is that I have often seen this mistake from politicians who have clearly spend a lot of time being briefed by the Indian IT Outsourcing movement, and little time being briefed by Brits who understand the business. Sometimes I have seen them repeat the slides word for word.

  35. Al
    June 21, 2023

    “Many more people will come to have an assistant with access to great data, capable of sifting, searching and selecting from it to help the human boss. ” – JR

    Except that is happening now, and the result is the echo chamber as the “assistant” provides either what it has been trained to expect the user wants to see, resulting in radicalisation, or worse where the data supplied is that which the “assistant’s” programmers wish the person to see or are paid to push at them. How many people have the skills to recognise this when it happens to them, or to notice if the AI’s ability to rate sources becomes biased?

    We’re already having issues with people believeing wikipedia editors over researchers in their fields, and the fact that many people rely on Google, who consider it a feature that search results are tailored to show what the user wants to see over what may dissent. Information applied without comprehension and evaluation is dangerous.

  36. Kenneth
    June 21, 2023

    A.I. is a fashionable thing to talk about and I suspect much of the propaganda we are seeing is from those who are worried they will lose their jobs.

    I think it is time for politicians to deal with real things and real life instead of doom foreacasts they see on tv

    1. glen cullen
      June 21, 2023

      I was asked, over the weekend during general pub chitchat, my opinion of AI, I replied that it was difficult to have an opinion on a subject that doesn’t yet exist.

    2. glen cullen
      June 21, 2023

      According to this government any smart-phone program that can do predictive text is AI

  37. agricola
    June 21, 2023

    The real world is today and you do not need AI to work out what is wrong. Inflation at 8.7%, two digits greater than the EU and over twice the level in the USA.
    Nett Zero and the cost of energy is the root cause. We pay more for energy than almost any other country in the World and it is totally unnecessary.
    It has been brought about by fantasising and technically illiterate politicians living out an unachievable dream with no concern whatever for the consequenses. For the sake of political balance they appeare on GB News talking vacuous nonesense. Your government, blind to the consequences for the electorate are more fearful of upsetting Just Stop Oil.
    We are sitting on untapped reserves of gas, coal and oil that should be exploited tomorrow. We should by now have commissioned Rolls Royce to produce the pilot SMR. We should have created gas storage for at least 12 months supply.
    Sunak and Hunt should emerge from their crypt and declare a national emergency so that the necessary steps can be taken with protest from nobody, nimby or anochist. We are not content to be taken on this road to hell in a handcart.

  38. hefner
    June 21, 2023

    Where does appear in that picture?

    20/06/2023 ‘The Jules Verne Consortium will host the new EuroHPC exascale supercomputer in France’ (, 21/06/2023).
    There are already eight EuroHPCs within Continental Europe, most based around an ATOS BullSequana supercomputers (Sofia Tech Park, Da Vinci in Italy, IZUM in Slovenia, MeluXina in Luxembourg, Minho Advanced Computing Centre in Portugal) plus U.Linkoping, Topaze (French Defence Ministry), Juelich Supercomputing Centre.
    Soon coming online (2024) U.Edinburgh, Swansea U., Spanish Met.Office, Sweden’s Arrhenius.

    Anybody relying on the information given by the UK Dept Trade & Industry is likely to have ‘deux ou trois metros de retard’.

    And yes, AI dealing with huge datasets needs big computers (exascale, 10^18 double precision operations per second).

  39. Drooling Prole
    June 21, 2023

    Just get on with it. Give me my UBI/Digi Coins and clamp my headset on

  40. agricola
    June 21, 2023

    Here is a bit of lateral thinking for you, no AI involved. Our military are short of foot soldiers. We have a constant stream of illegal immigrants we wish to stop. On arrival , said immigrants should be automatically recruited to the army and given six months basic training at Aldershot. Never armed but otherwise everthing at the double. The message would soon get back to Calais and I suspect the boats would stop. Start with those currently residing in hotels around the UK. There are plenty of menial tasks any Sergeant Major could generate to keel them busy until they beg to go home.

    1. glen cullen
      June 21, 2023

      National Service for Immigrants – I like it

  41. Peter Gardner
    June 22, 2023

    I am sure Sir John watched Kemi Badenoch’s evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee. She was quite clear that even before her appointment there was never going to be a bonfire of EU laws because of the approach taken. Nevertheless Jones, her chief inquisitor, seemed not to care about the consequences so long as there was a bonfire of everything derived frm the EU. She pointed out that very few areas of EU law were under her management, most were with other departments and she has no authority or power over them. She pointed out that much opposition comes from Tory peers. She did not say – could not say – that she gets little support in cabinet but it was clear that she doesn’t. The Sunak Framework doesn’t help. She did not say it but it is clear that this framework, cementing EU rule and the jurisdiction of the ECJ in Northern Ireland permanently and committing the UK to close regulatory alignment with the EU pulls in the opposite direction to the the REUL bill. If GB diverges it increases separation of Northern Ireland from the UK. Furthermore the Framework empowers the EU to take unilateral action aganst the UK if it, not some independent body but the EU itself, perceives that the UK is becoming more competitive than the EU finds comfortable. It is similar in effect to Mrs May’s infamous backstop.
    It seems to me that the Tory Party has yet to decide, as a party, whether it believes the UK should be independently sovereign or not. There is no point in being sovereign if the Government merely shadows the EU but that is what it is doing.

    1. Peter Gardner
      June 22, 2023

      There is a short cut open to the Government: legislate that all REUL in the UK is to lose its primacy and is to be interpreted in UK courts according to the prinicples of English and Scottish law, not European law. That could be done with a very short bill and cut to the heart of the matter.
      So, why does the government not do so and instead tie it in one bill to a headline grabbing bonfire of EU law which is almost guaranteed to fail. We know the truth, the Sunak/Hunt government actually wants to stay close to the EU.

  42. Lynn Atkinson
    June 22, 2023

    Several contributors have confirmed that the Computer industry in the late ‘70s, to my certain knowledge, were discussing and assessing A1. It was deemed to be ‘do-able’ but ‘undesirable’ – rather like producing a human child with 3 genetic ‘parents’.
    The whole point about setting the computer off to develop its own logic and set its own programme goals is that no human hand will be liable. After 4 weeks the computer will ‘travel’ maybe 100 years of human-controlled logic programming. Who will you sue when you find that the feral computer has ‘drawn facts’ from 4 million sources and conflated these ‘facts’ to produce its logical ‘solution’ – for instance to reduce the overpopulated world cutting food supply is the logical answer. To enforce this put soil pollutants into the ‘fertiliser’ so idiot farmers do the work for you. That’s why AI was called AS by the real computer geniuses of which there are very few nowadays.
    I’m afraid that we are looking at the end of the computer age, because we will have to bludgeon them to death.
    That sound’s as stupid as proposing ‘Brexit’ in the 60s and 70s or telling my family that Africa will return to what it was before we spent blood and treasure developing it.
    There is no joy in being right.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    June 24, 2023

    I’m more concerned about ALOI (Artificial Lack of Intelligence) as practiced by Government Departments and large corporations. Try telephoning such organisations with the intention of talking to a human being with a non-routine inquiry. A telephone land line is a good method of communication provided only that there is a human being on the other end to pick up the ‘phone. Instead, the process is automated. Firstly, there is about ten minutes of ‘soothing music’ because they don’t deploy enough staff. Secondly, there is a message “Did you know that you can communicate using our web site www etc?” So why am I telephoning you? Thirdly, there is a load of marketing information about services you don’t want (“… some useless information that’s meant to fire my imagination …”), Then, you are asked to choose between many options, none of which you want. You are then asked to hold and wait for an operative. This can involve a further 20 minute wait, followed by a load of security questions. Then the operative confesses that he/she doesn’t have the knowledge to answer your question and it will be a further 20 minute wait before someone with the necessary nous is available.

    Executives get huge bonuses for installing such ALOI systems, which save the organisations loads-o’-money at the expense of customers’ time. The remedy? Try not using companies that deploy ALOI. In the case of Government Departments deploying ALOI, we rely on our politicians to tell them not to, so far to no avail.

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