December 20, 2021
The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has set out the steps required to build an AI assurance ecosystem in the UK. The roadmap, which was a commitment in the UK’s National AI Strategy, follows calls from public bodies including the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and industry, to build an ecosystem of tools and services that can identify and mitigate the range of risks posed by AI and drive trustworthy adoption. It addresses one of the biggest issues in AI governance identified by international organisations including the Global Partnership on AI, OECD and the World Economic Forum.
Assurance services, such as audit, certification and impact assessments, are common in other sectors, such as financial services and cybersecurity. These tools ensure that complex products are trustworthy and compliant with regulation, improving organisations’ confidence to invest and delivering better outcomes for consumers. However, assurance services for AI are currently relatively undeveloped.
The CDEI says that the roadmap brings coherence to a fragmented and nascent ecosystem. It sets out the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, and identifies six priority areas for action:
- generate demand for reliable and effective assurance across the AI supply chain, improving understanding of risks, as well as accountabilities for mitigating them;
- build a dynamic, competitive AI assurance market, that provides a range of effective services and tools;
- develop standards that provide a common language for AI assurance;
- build an accountable AI assurance profession to ensure that AI assurance services are also trustworthy and high quality;
- support organisations to meet regulatory obligations by setting requirements that can be assured against; and
- improve links between industry and independent researchers, so that researchers can help develop assurance techniques and identify AI risks.
The CDEI says that it will take a number of steps over the next year to deliver on the roadmap, along with partners across industry, regulators and government. It will support DCMS and the Office for Artificial Intelligence as they work with stakeholders to pilot an AI Standards Hub, which will expand the UK’s contribution to global AI standards. It will also partner with professional bodies and regulators in the UK to set out assurable standards and requirements for AI systems; and convene stakeholders, including through an AI assurance accreditation forum, which will bring together professional and accreditation bodies who need to play a role in the professionalisation of AI assurance. To read the CDEI’s press release in full and for a link to the roadmap, click here.