Published on 16 October 2023
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Generative AI

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

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 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:

  • What policy infrastructure and social capacity does the UK need to lead and  manage deployment of responsible generative AI (over the long term)?

  • What national capability does the UK need for large-scale AI systems in the  short- and medium-term?

  • What governance capacity does  the UK need to deal with fast moving  technologies, in which large uncertainties are a feature, not a bug?

This policy brief maps out an ethical framework for the governance of generative AI, through the creation of an AI Bill. It will be useful to a wide range of stakeholders in addressing how we can use regulatory and legislative power today, to ensure that the British public can trust how this technology is used.

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.

News release: UK needs AI legislation to create trust so companies can ‘plug AI into British economy’ – report


Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert

Affiliated Researcher

Sam Gilbert is an entrepreneur and researcher working at the intersection of politics and technology. An expert in data-driven marketing, Sam was Employee No.1 and Chief Marketing Officer at Bought...

Ann Kristin Glenster

Dr Ann Kristin Glenster is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy at the University of Cambridge, and the Executive Director of the Glenlead Centre....

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