AI Safety Summit: Government policy must balance risk with innovation for UK tech to thrive

24 October 2023

As the UK prepares to host the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park on November 1-2, RSM UK is calling on Government to strike the right balance between innovation and risk to ensure the UK can become a ‘global leader in AI technology’ as Rishi Sunak aims. 

Ben Bilsland, technology and media senior analyst, RSM UK, said: ‘We as a country want a voice at the global table on AI, and it’s right for the government to place safety and regulation at the top of the AI agenda. But safety risks cannot be considered in isolation. Clear, effective government policy should strike a balance between safety and cultivating innovation and growth in the UK’s technology sector. Lack of clarity and insufficient government incentives could hamper development of AI technologies and discourage overseas investors. This would mean less growth for the UK economy as a whole, and a failure to meet the government’s aim of becoming a world leading technology superpower.’ 

RSM’s latest Real Economy Report on AI showed half (50%) of middle market business leaders want government policy to strike a balance between innovation and safety, although just over a third (37%) would urge government to prioritise safety over innovation. RSM stresses that developing AI in the right way will also depend on the UK’s ability to build the right workforce with the right skills. 

Ben Bilsland continues: ‘If the chancellor is to meet his aspiration of making the UK the next Silicon Valley we need clearer policies on funding for AI, skilled immigration, and education and skills, so we can build the workforce of the future.’

The government has recently announced a further £37m of funding to support innovative AI projects in a range of sectors, however RSM is concerned that this may not be enough. 

Ben Bilsland concludes: ‘While this new investment is of course welcome, it’s a drop in the ocean when we consider the scale of the possibilities and challenges AI presents. In comparison, the government’s own research* indicates that the 3,170 AI businesses in the UK have collectively raised £18.8bn, whilst contributing £10.6bn of AI related revenues.  With a general election on the horizon, the government may be reluctant to make promises it may not be able to keep, however Labour’s AI policy is also yet to be announced, which makes planning ahead difficult for tech businesses.’

While businesses await further guidance from government, RSM recommends they consider the following in relation to AI implementation:

  1. Vision: Ensure your AI vision aligns with your business and digital strategy to support your long-term goals
  2. Use cases: Have an end goal in mind by identifying specific challenges and opportunities that you want AI to address
  3. Data: Understand your data and the data needed for your AI models
  4. Technology: Assess your data platform to ensure it supports your AI needs and select appropriate AI tools for your business
  5. People: Consider the skills and expertise needed to deliver your AI vision and provide education to build awareness and drive adoption across your workforce
  6. Governance: Define AI policies and procedures to govern the use of data and AI within your organisation
Ben Bilsland
Ben  Bilsland
Partner, Head of Technology
Ben Bilsland
Ben  Bilsland
Partner, Head of Technology