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A Deep Dive into the World of AI and its Regulation

The term 'artificial intelligence' is something that has been used increasingly more often as contemporary society develops. As humans grow and evolve, so too do the things we produce. Technology is no different. But what is Artificial Intelligence? Where did it come from, who created it, and how on earth are we supposed to regulate a field that is continuously developing? The art of Artificial Intelligence is that it will grow and learn without human input. So how are humans supposed to stop it from being used in undesirable methods?

In this article, I'm going to give you the ultimate run-down on Artificial Intelligence. From what it is, where it came from, and some of the attempts that have been taken to regulate it.

What Is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (more commonly known as AI) is quite simply the intelligence of artificial beings. It’s the thinking process of a computer, the learning streak of a machine. It’s a computerised system’s ability to adapt to a situation, to learn and develop without human input. In his 1945 essay As We May Think, Vannevar Bush suggested the possibility of a system to improve our knowledge, and in 1950 Alan Turing wrote a paper discussing this exact idea, even going so far as to suggest machines acting like us, doing intelligent things, and even playing Chess!

But it wasn’t until John McCarthy stepped on the scene that AI became as it is known today. Dubbed the father of ‘artificial intelligence’; McCarthy suggested the concept during his 1955 proposal at the 1956 Dartmouth Conference where he created the name. John McCarthy is also the creator of the very first programming language LISP and it’s still used in the AI field to this day. Remember that pop-up you got on your phone the other day about needing JavaScript? Well, JavaScript is a LISP.

AI: A Brief Historical Background

But Artificial Intelligence has a very interesting history. Although it was technically named as such in 1956, the first AI to be created dates back to earlier than this.

In 1952, Arthur Samuel created a computerised Checkers game, the first program to officially learn on its own. But in December 1955, Herbert Simon and Allen Newell created ‘The Logic Theorist’, the very first recognized AI program. It also proved 32 of the 58 formulae that Whitehead and Russell thought of in Principia Mathematica.

Regulation - The Basics

Much like AI itself, the regulation of it is still developing. With so much unexplored and unknown turf to explore, it’s likely a little difficult to efficiently regulate the unknown, but that doesn’t mean there is no regulation.

The UK Government has no official law set up to regulate AI itself, they recognize that some laws covering technology also extend to AI. The General Data Protection

Regulation (GDPR) is a guide created by the European Union, and whilst the UK no longer remains a part of the Union, it does have its own version of the GDPR named the UK GDPR which states in Article 22(1) that there are only limited circumstances in which a person can be subject to any automated decision; this means that there are only a few instances where a piece of AI can make any one decision in regards to a human being. This includes profiling which would cause any form of legal effect.

ICO Guidance on AI

While there isn’t much actual regulation on AI, there is certainly guidance on how to use it. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) released guidance on the use of AI; their goal is to help organizations to navigate any of the risks involved with using AI. They aimed this at two specific groups of people - those with a focus on compliance such as data protection officers and finally technology specialists. If you fall into any of these categories, you can find the guidance here. Alternatively, it has also been linked below with all of the relevant sources used in the creation of this article.

The guidance favours a risk-based approach to AI, and they determine this as assessing any rights and freedoms experienced when working with the AI, and implementing any appropriate mitigation steps where necessary, It is not necessary to adopt a complete zero tolerance policy as it would be unrealistic in practice, given the forever-expanding nature of AI, but companies should be aware of any pre-existing laws which may cover their topic of concern. They should also consider if they are a controller or a processor of information - is their AI focused on collecting data, or using it? This is because their guidance is not the be-all and end-all of using AI. Focused on primarily protecting data, it should be noted that general ethics to be used when using AI has been declared elsewhere. Such ethics can be found in The Declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in AI.

The ICO then continued to discuss Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA’s) regarding AI. These are not merely a box-ticking exercise, and because the use of AI is often likely to trigger risk to an individual’s rights and freedoms, the use of a DPIA will likely be required by Article 35(1) of the GDPR. Further information on how to carry out a DPIA can be found here.

Remember Alan Turing WHOM I mentioned earlier? Well, the Alan Turing Institute produced a set of guidance together with ICO named ‘Explaining decisions made with AI guidance'. This guidance covers several sections of the GDPR which need to be considered when handling AI.

And that's all for our deep dive into Artificial Intelligence! We've learned a lot, from John McCarthy originally putting the name to the concept in 1955, to the steps that organisations including the UK Government and ICO have tried to put in place to regulate the developing field. Below this, you will find a list of all the sources used in the production of this Article. Stay tuned for my next article, we'll be sticking with the theme of Artificial Intelligence for the rest of September!


Reference List:

  • UK GDPR. n.d. Chapter 3 - Article 22 | UK GDPR. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 August 2022].

  • n.d. Data protection impact assessments. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 August 2022].

  • 2018. Declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 August 2022].

  • GOV.UK. 2022. Establishing a pro-innovation approach to regulating AI. [online] Available at: <,capture%20uses%20of%20AI%20technologies> [Accessed 22 August 2022].

  • n.d. Guidance on AI and data protection. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 August 2022].

  • n.d. Legal framework. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 August 2022].

  • Press, G., 2016. A Very Short History Of Artificial Intelligence (AI). [online] Forbes. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 August 2022].

  • University of Washington, 2006. The History of AI. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 August 2022].

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