Data Protection Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Chair, Artificial Intelligence Committee, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital), Chair, Artificial Intelligence Committee 7:00 pm, 13th November 2017

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who spoke in the debate. It has been wide-ranging but extremely interesting, as evidenced by the fact that at one point three members of the Artificial Intelligence Select Committee were speaking. That demonstrates that currently we live, eat and breathe artificial intelligence, algorithms and all matters related to them. It is a highly engaged committee. Of course, whatever I put forward from these Benches is not—yet—part of the recommendations of that committee, which, no doubt, will report in due course in March.

I very much like the analogy the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, drew between this debate and the human fertilisation and embryology debate, and I noticed that the Minister picked up on that. Providing the ethical framework for AI and the use of algorithms will be extremely important in the future, and in due course we will come on to debate what kind of body might be appropriate to set standards and ethical principles. I quoted the Minister, Matt Hancock, because that speech was all about creating public trust so that we can develop the beneficial uses of artificial intelligence while avoiding its perils—the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, put his finger on some of the issues. That will be important if we are to get acceptance of this new technology as it develops, particularly as we move from what might be called weak AI towards strong, general AI. We do not know what the timescale will be, but it will be particularly important to create that level of public trust. So it is extremely important in this context to kick around concepts of accountability, explanation, transparency, and so on.