The UK must not delay in legislating for AI

The Institute of Directors is calling on the UK government to reevaluate its ‘wait and see’ approach to AI regulation and establish a principles-based regime on a statutory basis as a matter of urgency.

In a recent survey of IoD members, 51% of business leaders indicated that AI represents a business opportunity for their organisations, while only 23% see it as a risk. Yet uncertainty about the UK’s approach to AI regulation is hampering uptake of these crucial new technologies:

  • Very few boards (8%) have AI governance structures in place to examine how AI is being used in their business or supply chains.
  • 60% of business leaders either lack AI knowledge on their boards, don’t see it as a board level issue or have so far failed to consider the risks and opportunities of AI.

The government has defined high level principles intended to be applied by sector regulators to guide the responsible use of AI in its White Paper, ‘A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation’. The IoD is broadly supportive of this regulatory approach and is calling for the introduction of an AI Bill in the forthcoming King’s Speech.

Commenting on these proposals, the IoD’s Director of Policy, Dr. Roger Barker, said:

“The IoD believes that clearly articulated regulatory principles for AI are essential to create legal certainty for business leaders. This approach is more likely to accommodate innovation than the prescriptive rules for specific AI technologies being devised by the European Union and some other major jurisdictions.

“However, there is no time to waste. The EU’s proposed legislation is well advanced and may quickly establish itself as the de facto global standard for AI regulation – in the same way that the EU’s GDPR has become the main reference framework for data protection.

“The UK is at risk of being left behind. In order to retain its position of leadership, the UK needs to act fast in implementing its own vision for AI regulation rather than waiting for others to set the rules of the game.  We therefore urge the Government to place its AI regulatory principles on a statutory basis through legislation in the King’s Speech.”


Full survey results

IoD Policy Voice Survey, April 2023, based on 949 responses

The accelerating development of AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, has sparked the debate on how the government should approach AI regulation. A large number of prominent individuals from the tech community (e.g. Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak) have signed a letter asking to pause AI research, due to their concerns about the profound risks that AI may pose to humanity. To what extent do you think AI poses an opportunity or a risk to your organisation?
Significant opportunity 26.2%
Slight opportunity 25.5%
Neither opportunity nor risk 15.7%
Slight risk 10.5%
Significant risk 12.6%
Don’t know 7.0%
N/A 2.4
Grand Total 100.0%


IoD Policy Voice Survey, July 2022, based on 671 responses

How knowledgeable are your Board members about the potential and risks of artificial intelligence (AI) for your business?
All/most Board members are knowledgeable about AI opportunities and risks for our business 17%
We have one (or more) expert on the Board who leads on these issues 24%
We have no AI expertise on the Board 33%
We don’t regard AI as a Board issue 10%
We have not looked at this issue / don’t know 17%
Grand Total 100.0%


Do you have processes in place to check where AI is being used in your business/supply chain and what its impacts may be?
Yes – we have an AI governance structure in place 8%
Not yet – but we are working on it 32%
No – this isn’t relevant to us 54%
Don’t know 6%
Grand Total 100%