UK Govt. publishes AI procurement guidelines



UK publishes a document outlining the procurement challenges for public sector buyers and best cases for procurement of AI technology.

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As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes indispensable in various factions of governance and public services, countries are defining roles and rules for AI inclusion. Recently, the Pentagon announced five ethical principles that the US military shall follow for using AI.

The United Kingdom has released a set of guidelines on Monday to encourage public sector bodies to adopt AI and deploy it in a responsible and ethical manner for the advancement of the society. The UK government's Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) released this document during the World Economic Forum (WEF), who is also one of the collaborators. The other collaborators include the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Government Digital Service (GDS), Government Commercial Function and Crown Commercial Service.

The document refers to machine learning and how to use it responsibly. The document was created as part of WEF’s Unlocking Public Sector AI project. The document is built upon OAI’s previous guidelines for AI which was released along with Government Digital Service, in January 2020. This document is an amalgamation of feedback from various stakeholders from the industry, academia and the government.

“The UK is a global leader in AI and I am pleased we are working with the World Economic Forum and international partners to develop guidelines to ensure its safe and ethical deployment,” said Caroline Dinenage, Digital Minister of the United Kingdom. “By taking a dynamic approach we can boost innovation, create competitive markets and support public trust in artificial intelligence. I urge public sector organisations around the world to adopt these guidelines and consider carefully how they procure and deploy these technologies.”

The document is a toolkit which aims at supporting government officials, especially managers, make wise decisions around buying appropriate AI systems. The document guides its reader to assess the possibility of buying AI systems, benchmarks and queries to consider while buying them. The document advises offices to adopt AI through strategic procurement by learning from the best case examples from elsewhere while keeping data ethics and open data standards in mind. The document also encourages the set-up of diverse, AI-focused interdisciplinary teams.

Apart from these, the document provides a workbook for policy and procurement officers, risk assessment guidelines for AI deployment and best case practices. So far, the toolkit has been used by the Departments of Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy and the NHSX, the technology, digital and data arm of the NHS.


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