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Submission to House of Lords Select Committee on AI

    • Moderator
    • 35 posts
    September 4, 2017 3:44 PM BST

    We have responded to a Call for Evidence from the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence and you can view the submission at /documents/1/15/submission-to-the-lords-select-committee-on-artificial-intelligence .

    Why not add your thoughts on this crucial topic for the future?

    • Moderator
    • 35 posts
    • 99 posts
    October 19, 2017 5:03 PM BST

    Seems to be regular stuff in the media about AI these days. There was one notable item today in the Guardian about Google's AI Group Deep Mind (UK company acquired by Google). They had created a new version of their Go-playing program which had become the world's best Go player in 3 days. The significance was that rather than learning from analysing thousands of previous games, it had been given the rules and then developed it's strategies by playing against itself. This is a significant step forward because it shows the progress towards now applying general purpose approaches to a variety of real-world problems, rather than producing specific approaches for particular environments.     

    • 99 posts
    November 16, 2017 1:23 PM GMT

    Spent time listening to the two House of Lords Committee AI sessions yesterday afternoon. Really worthwhile. You can watch it at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/1e92c4fc-d1b7-43b1-8eab-60607d0ee49f . Have to say I'm very impressed that I can sit and watch at my leisure some of the top experts present to the Lords committee and the openness of all this. 

    I think most things are in line with the conclusions in the Probably42 submission but lots of interesting arguments and additions.

    Robot tax etc did get a mention and Universal Basic income. Also the generality of the need for a new social contract that gives everyone a dividend out of wealth creation from AI. However it was only mentioned at high level. I think the P42 proposal went a bit further.

    Listening also convinced me that AI is central to our future society and existence, everything else we are looking at is a subsidiary issue to AI and AI will bring new ways of looking at everything.

    I've put together a summary of points I picked out at


    but really recommend watching at least some of it to get a flavour.

    This post was edited by Tony Clack at November 20, 2017 1:14 PM GMT
    • 21 posts
    November 16, 2017 2:07 PM GMT

    I've also listened to the proceedings, and found it all interesting and surprisingly entertaining. I feel considerably better informed as a result.

    It's tempting to think, listening to all of these experts, that the AI wave is about to break and wash us all away. But I'm guessing that the sheer inertia of government, business and the general public will almost certainly mean that it will progress at a much more leisurely pace.

    Points of note for me were

    • Many of the new jobs resulting from AI will themselves be susceptible to AI
    • The lack of a societal debate to form a backcloth for AI
    • The education system not adapting to encompass the implications of AI
    • The emphasis on STEM subjects
    • The legislative jungle that surrounds AI
    • Brexit being described as the worst possible time for AI as Ministers' attention is elsewhere
    • Consider how AI can achieve the outcomes from jobs rather than just automating those jobs.  
    • 21 posts
    November 17, 2017 9:53 PM GMT

    I've now listened to some more of the evidence and I agree with you and Geoff that it's very impressive. The points about education, work patterns and the new social contract that will need to go with them will need to be addressed and it's worrying that Government doesn't seem to be doing so, what with Brexit and all the other shenanigans going on at the moment.

    I think I agree with Geoff when he makes the point about the inertia of Government etc slowing things down. I know that you're wholly convinced that it's going to proceed apace and blow us all away within the next 20 years or so and you may well be right. However, we've been here before, to a certain extent, with, for example, the paperless office. That still hasn't materialised and neither has the reduction in business travel that was predicted with the advent of video conferencing. So I'm a little sceptical about how far and how fast all this will happen. That's not to say that we, as a country, shouldn't prepare for it; I just think that it may not happen as you believe it will.

    There is an assertion in the evidence that AI will improve the quality of jobs and of life but that a new social contract will be needed. I would put that a bit differently and say that the quality of life will only be improved if there is a new social contract and that it's one that everyone buys into. If we don't get one or it's one that many people feel is unfair to them (in whatever way) then there's a good chance that our quality of life will deteriorate and that there will be increased social divisions.

     It's an absorbing topic and one that will continue to be both vitally important and fascinating.