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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
08 June 2023
Richard Lochhead warns against ‘unnecessary red tape’ in the regulation of AI

Richard Lochhead speaking at Holyrood's Digital Transformation | Andrew Perry

Richard Lochhead warns against ‘unnecessary red tape’ in the regulation of AI

Richard Lochhead has urged the UK Government to “have the right regulations in place” and to support ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI).  

Speaking at Holyrood’s Digital Transformation event in Edinburgh this week, the Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade told delegates that the Scottish and UK governments need to strike the right balance between encouraging businesses to profit from the technology while ensuring the safety of the public.  

Ensuring that the government does not create “unnecessary red tape” is vitally important he said, adding, “we have a duty” to create the “right supportive environment for businesses to do well” while also “keeping our citizens protected”.  

He acknowledged that “most of the regulatory levers for AI” sit with the UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, and he said they must ensure that the United Kingdom “has the right regulation in place and supports ethical AI for the country”.

Last week in the Scottish Parliament, Lochhead said he was “concerned” and describes the UK Government’s approach to AI as being “hands off” to this point. He called for an urgent four nations summit on the implications of AI as soon as possible.

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, the minister has commissioned an independent review to set out what Scotland needs to do to maximise the benefits of the technology while controlling the risks.  

This week the UK Government announced that it will lead a global AI summit which will evaluate the risks of AI. Although it is not known what countries will attend the summit, the government said it will "bring together key countries, leading tech companies and researchers to agree safety measures to evaluate and monitor the most significant risks from AI".

Speaking at Holyrood’s event, Lochhead said: “It’s really important that as a government we don’t create any unnecessary red tape, but we do have a duty to create the right supportive environment to allow businesses to do well while keeping our citizens protected.  

“Again, we are urging the UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, who has control over most of the regulatory levers for AI, to ensure the UK Government has the right regulations in place and supports ethical AI for the country.”

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