Together with its partners, the RSE has prepared a briefing to inform the Scottish Government-led debate on artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven technologies taking place Wednesday 13 November. Its joint publications with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Scotland IS and BT Scotland have provided a timely and influential account of the current AI landscape and how such technologies may continue to evolve in the future. As part of this work, it was proposed that an AI strategy be developed for Scotland and the group was pleased when Scottish Government announced it was taking this recommendation forward.

While the RSE and its collaborators believe that AI has the capacity to improve our lives in many ways, it is also mindful of the risks it could pose to personal data and the job market. In order to make best use of the opportunities afforded by automation and safeguard against these unintended consequences, it will be crucial for the future AI strategy to be founded on a sound regulatory and ethical framework. This will require gathering a multitude of perspectives across the private, public and social economy sectors, as well as bringing citizens on board. Although Scotland should strive to be a leader in the field of AI, it will nonetheless be important to align national AI policy with UK and international equivalents to build coherence. The strategy must also be flexible enough to account for the full breadth of AI technologies and their associated impacts, from those that are still in their infancy to those that are more developed.

The RSE looks forward to continuing to shape the development of Scotland’s AI strategy through a range of public engagement and policy-related work, aided by its considerable convening power and the expertise of its Fellowship. On the immediate horizon, the RSE will have a presence at the 2020 Edinburgh Science Festival, with a programme of activity that will focus on AI.

View the briefing here.