The UK Government has released a AI white paper today outlining its strategy for regulating artificial intelligence (AI). Instead of creating a single, centralised AI regulator, the government plans to delegate AI governance to existing regulators, such as the Health and Safety Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Competition and Markets Authority. These regulators will develop tailored, context-specific approaches to address AI usage in their respective sectors.

UK AI White paper 

The white paper highlights five principles for regulators to consider: safety, security and robustness; transparency and explainability; fairness; accountability and governance; and contestability and redress. Over the next year, regulators will provide practical guidance, tools, and resources, such as risk assessment templates, to help organisations implement these principles in their sectors.

The government will allocate £2 million to create a new sandbox—a trial environment allowing businesses to test potential AI regulation for products and services. This aims to support innovation without being hindered by “rulebook barriers.”

This approach distinguishes the UK from the European Union, which is preparing to enact the AI Act, regulating AI usage across the bloc. The Act will encompass any service or product that utilizes AI, covering systems capable of producing outputs such as content, predictions, recommendations, or decisions that influence environments.

Tim Wright, a partner and specialist tech and AI regulation lawyer at Fladgate, commented on the white paper: “The regulatory principles set out simply confirm the Government’s preferred approach, which they say will encourage innovation in the space without imposing undue burden on businesses developing and adopting AI while encouraging fair and ethical use and protecting individuals.”

He added, “Time will tell if this sector-by-sector approach has the desired effect. What it does do is put the UK on a completely different approach from the EU, which is pushing through a detailed rulebook backed up by a new liability regime and overseen by a single super AI regulator.”

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan stated that AI could make the UK “a smarter, healthier, and happier place to live and work” and that a strong, principle-based approach was needed to build public trust in the technology.

As part of the white paper, the government is also consulting on new processes to improve coordination between regulators and monitor the AI framework, making changes as necessary. The government encourages organizations and individuals working with AI to share their views on the white paper, which will inform the framework’s development in the coming months.

Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce, said:

“Both our business and our customers will benefit from agile, context-driven AI regulation. It will enable us to continue to lead the technical and quality assurance innovations for safety-critical industrial AI applications, while remaining compliant with the standards of integrity, responsibility and trust that society demands from AI developers”

Sue Daley, Director for Tech and Innovation at techUK, said:

“techUK welcomes the much-anticipated publication of the UK’s AI white paper and supports its plans for a context-specific, principle-based approach to governing AI that promotes innovation.”

Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK, said:

“AI is the technology that will define the coming decades with the potential to supercharge economies, create new industries and amplify human ingenuity”

Rudi Kesic, CEO of Lawtech 365, said:

“The UK’s AI white paper signifies a promising step forward in creating a regulatory framework that enables innovation while maintaining ethical standards. At Lawtech 365, we believe that this context-driven approach will help businesses like ours develop AI solutions that not only improve efficiency in the legal sector but also foster trust in the technology. We look forward to contributing to this evolving landscape and collaborating with both public and private stakeholders in the pursuit of responsible AI development.”

This new framework seeks to build trust in transformative technology, support innovation, and mitigate future risks, ultimately allowing AI to reach its full potential in various fields, including climate change and healthcare. For more information visit the UK Gov website .