Policy Brief - Generative AI

Which path should the UK take to build national capability for generative AI?

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The rapid rollout of generative AI models, and public attention to Open AI’s ChatGPT, has raised concerns about AI’s impact on the economy and society. In the UK, policy makers are looking to large language models and other so-called foundation models as ways to potentially improve economic productivity.

This policy brief from Dr Ann Kristin Glenster and Sam Gilbert outlines which policy levers could support those goals. They argue that the UK should pursue becoming a global leader in applying generative AI to the economy. Rather than use public support for building new foundation models, the UK could support the growing ecosystem of startups that develop new applications for these models, creating new products and services.

A UK approach to generative AI could leverage the existing national strengths in safe, responsible and ethical AI to put human safety and flourishing at the forefront of innovation. A national approach could achieve these goals by increasing understanding of and access to generative AI tools throughout the economy and society.

This policy brief answers three key questions:

  1. What policy infrastructure and social capacity does the UK need to lead and manage deployment of responsible generative AI (over the long term)?
  2. What national capability does the UK need for large-scale AI systems in the short- and medium-term?
  3. What governance capacity does the UK need to deal with fast moving technologies, in which large uncertainties are a feature, not a bug?

Thanks to Ann Kristin and Sam’s extensive research, this policy brief maps out an ethical framework for the governance of generative AI, through the creation of an AI Bill.

We hope that this policy brief will be useful to a wide range of stakeholders and address how we can use regulatory and legislative power today, to ensure that the British public can trust how this technology is used.

We are also excited that this policy brief brings together expertise from three groups at the University of Cambridge: the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy and ai@cam.

Evidenced-based, science-informed research like this brief is what our three organisations do best, and we hope that our insights can help decision-makers navigate public debates and policy choices with more clarity.