Embracing AI, Episode 1 | AI Bill is vital for innovation: An interview with Lord Chris Holmes

  • Podcast 08 May 2024 08 May 2024
  • UK & Europe

  • Cyber Risk

Welcome to our new Embracing AI podcast series, hosted by Clyde & Co Partner, Chris Williams, which explores the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) across industries and sectors.

In this first episode, Tim Van Kampen, a Senior Associate in Clyde & Co’s global specialty insurance practice, interviews Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond, sponsor of the recently tabled AI Bill, to discuss what the proposed legislation means for the UK business and technology landscape. 

Van Kampen kicks off with an introduction to Lord Holmes, who provides an overview of the AI bill, its purpose, and the areas addressed. The discussion explores how the bill compares with the recently passed EU AI Act, and the lessons for the UK. Holmes then responds on issues relating to compliance, balancing innovation and regulation, and the role of international collaboration. The episode concludes with a look to the future and some advice for individuals and businesses across the UK. 

Holmes begins by providing some background to the bill so far, including how it was presented to parliament, and the process by which it will be passed into law, if successful. Its main purpose he says is: “to enable the UK to be in the most optimal position to enable citizens, consumers, businesses, communities, our entire country, to get the best out of what AI can offer...”

On the main topics in the bill, Holmes highlights the importance of an AI authority, stressing it should be “an agile, right-size regulator which has a horizontal function.” Other critical elements are public engagement, regulatory sandboxes, the issues of IP, copyright and labelling, and the role of regulation - all underpinned by the principles of “trust, transparency, inclusion, innovation, interoperability, an international approach, accountability, and assurance.”  

Exploring the EU AI Act, Holmes describes it as “a valiant effort,” while noting that it “tends towards more prescriptive and rules-based approach,” which contrasts with the UK’s more flexible, future-proof, and dynamic outlook: “…we need to go broader and wider so we can have a much more international… coherent and consistent approach for the benefits of citizens, consumers, and innovators,” he explains. 

On the topic of compliance costs, Holmes says he was “ruthlessly focused” that the bill wouldn’t become a compliance burden. Similarly, he stresses the importance of being pro-innovation, stating: “…all the good lessons from history clearly show us that right-size regulation is market making, market shaping, a driver of innovation, a driver of inward investment…” 

Internationally, he sees the bill as “…an opportunity to be different, but with interoperability within it,” while envisioning a chance to build relationships around the world and “…re-imagine, re-energise and to transform... international institutions.”

Holmes outlines the path ahead for the AI Bill, noting some “timing issues” and “persuasion issues”, although, he believes “…if not now, when?” He also gives his advice to SMEs looking to utilise AI: “I'd say to all citizens, to all businesses, engage, think about it… what are the problems that you're having, what are the opportunities you'd like to realize and how AI, and indeed other technologies such as blockchain, may be part of the solution?” 

Finally, he asks listeners to share their views with him via LinkedIn, concluding: “We will only succeed if we have that real, meaningful, absolutely energizing, enabling, unleashing of public engagement right across every part of our great UK.” 

For any questions on topics raised in our Embracing AI podcast series, to suggest future topics, or to subscribe, please visit the dedicated AI webpage on the Clyde & Co website.


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