Artificial intelligence strategy: trustworthy, ethical and inclusive

Our artificial intelligence (AI) strategy sets out a vision for AI in Scotland, the principles that will guide us, and the actions we’ll take to develop and strengthen our AI ecosystem over the next five years.

The Scottish AI Playbook

The Strategy is the result of extensive consultation with the public, industry, the public sector and academia on artificial intelligence and its place in our society. It gives us a roadmap detailing where we want to go and what we need to do to get there. Now we want to share our thinking with as many people as possible and make the Strategy work by publishing a Scottish AI Playbook.

The Playbook, an open and practical guide to how we do AI in Scotland, introduces our vision, our principles and the practices we will adopt to realise our vision.

A Vision for AI in Scotland

Scotland will become a leader in the development and use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive AI

By achieving this vision, we will enable AI to contribute to making Scotland:

Fairer : Ensuring that our Values[20] are embedded in our approach to adoption of AI

Greener : Enabling us to make better use of resources and develop new, low carbon industries

More Prosperous : Empowering innovation with confidence building on a foundation of public trust, empowering our workforce and creating high value jobs

Outward Looking : Engaging with global partners that share our values, forging partnerships and contributing to tackling shared challenges

The Principles for AI in Scotland

The actions we will take to realise our vision for AI in Scotland will be guided by a set of enabling principles. This is essential if AI is to earn people's trust and make us competitive in a global marketplace where AI ethics is emerging as a key consideration.

The principles will guide the AI journey from concept to regulation and adoption to create a chain of trust throughout the entire process.

Our principles will enhance Scotland's reputation as an ethical place to do business. This is in line with our recently published Vision for Trade[21] and reflects our values-led approach to investment outlined in Scotland's Inward Investment Plan: Shaping Scotland's Economy[22]. Also, they reflect our belief that everyone should contribute to and benefit from AI that is trustworthy, ethical and inclusive. We want the people of Scotland to have the skills and opportunities to play their part as part of a diverse workforce, and benefit from the transformations that AI will bring to our economy and ways of working.

We also need our people to be assured that the products, services and decisions enabled by AI are safe and secure and protect their rights and are free of discrimination that biased data or inadequate design or use might otherwise create..

These challenges require a response across government and for this reason we will focus on aligning our approach with the Digital Strategy[23] and other initiatives including the Review of the Scottish Technology Ecosystem[24], the updated Cyber Resilience Strategy[25] and the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan[26].

We will be guided by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) five complementary values-based principles for the responsible stewardship of trustworthy AI[27]:

1 AI should benefit people and the planet by driving inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being.

2 AI systems should be designed in a way that respects the rule of law, human
rights, democratic values and diversity, and they should include appropriate safeguards – for example, enabling human intervention where necessary – to ensure a fair and just society.

3 There should be transparency and responsible disclosure around AI systems to ensure that people understand AI-based outcomes and can challenge them.

4 AI systems must function in a robust, secure and safe way throughout their life cycles and potential risks should be continually assessed and managed.

5 Organisations and individuals developing, deploying or operating AI systems should be held accountable for their proper functioning in line with the above principles.

We recognise that AI presents specific challenges and opportunities for children. Our children interact with AI in many ways, but these systems are often not designed with their specific needs in mind. Today children live in a world where AI can help to improve their lives and, at the same time, has the potential to become a negative influence. The Scottish Government is working in partnership with UNICEF to support the Data Collaborative for Children[28] to make sure AI benefits children in Scotland and around the world.

Scotland is to become the first devolved nation in the world to directly incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law.[29] Recognising the specific challenges and opportunities AI presents for children, we will also adopt UNICEF's policy guidance on AI for children[30] which draw on the UNCRC. AI policies and systems should aim to protect children, provide equitably for their needs and rights, and empower them to participate in an AI world by contributing to the development and use of AI. We will consider its nine requirements in our work:

1. Support children's development and well-being

Let AI help me develop to my full potential.

2. Ensure inclusion of and for children

Include me and those around me.

3. Prioritise fairness and non-discrimination for children

AI must be for all children.

4. Protect children's data and privacy

Ensure my privacy in an AI world.

5. Ensure safety for children

I need to be safe in the AI world.

6. Provide transparency, explainability, and accountability for children

I need to know how AI impacts me. You need to be accountable for that.

7. Empower governments and businesses with knowledge of AI and children's rights

You must know what my rights are and uphold them.

8. Prepare children for present and future developments in AI

If I am well prepared now, I can contribute to responsible AI for the future.

9. Create an enabling environment

Make it possible for all to contribute to child-centred AI.

These principles reflect our values and the challenges and opportunities presented by AI. We will review them regularly to ensure they continue to do so.

In doing this, we will draw on outputs from the Ethical Digital Nation[31] work which is being taken forward as part of Scotland's Digital Strategy, and engage with bodies such as the UK Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation[32] and the Information Commissioner's Office[33].

Make Children's Rights Real March November 2019 - Credit: The Children's Parliament
A photo of young people displaying placards at an event in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential

Data for children collaborative with UNICEF

Using AI to develop sustainable census-independent population density estimation

The Data for Children Collaborative, a joint partnership between UNICEF, the Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh's Data Driven Innovation Programme, was established to investigate ways of using data to improve the lives of children around the world.

The group is running a project in Mozambique that uses sustainable machine learning models to improve current population estimates. Census data is not collected frequently enough to account for rapid population change in many emerging economies and is also found to lack precision, particularly in semi-urban and rural areas. UNICEF needs a more accurate understanding of the number of children in each community to better plan and deliver key services, such as vaccination programmes.

A multi-disciplinary team from the University of Edinburgh is using state-of-the-art machine learning tools to extract features from satellite images that are relevant to population density estimation, such as building footprints. Micro census data from UNICEF is used to train and validate the machine learning models, providing a user's perspective on the sustainability of these tools. Ultimately, it is hoped that UNICEF will apply the optimal model identified from the project in other countries to improve their programming capabilities and provide better healthcare services to children.

By supporting UNICEF in this initiative, academics and researchers in Scotland are making a global impact by applying their expertise to solve a problem that has existed for decades.

Our Practices for AI in Scotland

To achieve our vision for AI in Scotland, we will use the following practices to put our principles into action:

  • Collective Leadership - This is central to the AI Alliance which will drive the successful implementation of the strategy. We will adopt the Team Scotland approach which places people first and is based on inclusion, co-production and collaboration.
  • Public Sector Leadership - We will commit the public sector to lead by example and use AI responsibly to serve the public.
  • Open and Engaging - We will strengthen our ways of working and advise developers
  • and users of AI, drawing on best practice worldwide (such as the European Commission Independent High-Level Expert Group on AI's Ethics Guidelines[34] and Assessment List for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence[35]) and our own success stories in Scotland.
  • Adaptive Learning – The AI Playbook will become a shared and living asset, which will evolve as society and technologies change and we learn what works best. Through the AI Alliance, everyone will have opportunities to contribute, develop their AI skills and receive the support they need.
DataFest Fringe Event, Aberdeen March 2020 – Credit: The Data Lab
A photo of several people attending a reception at DataFest 2020 in Aberdeen.

We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy

Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance

The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) is the research pooling body for academic computer science in Scotland. Its membership comprises schools in 14 higher education institutions, representing around 600 academics and more than 800 research students. Research, teaching and knowledge exchange in AI is extremely active across SICSA, indicative of the long established track record of the field in Scotland.

The diversity and depth of AI research undertaken in Scotland gives us a global voice, with numerous high profile interdisciplinary and inter-organisational projects currently taking place across the country. These include the National Robotarium, the Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Node in Governance project, the Social AI Centre for Doctoral Training and the innovative AI research within the National Subsea Centre. Support from SICSA was a significant factor in securing funding from a range of sources for this important work.

This research has seen great impact, nationally and internationally: Heriot-Watt University has developed a strong reputation for producing successful spin-outs in areas including spoken dialogue systems and de-carbonisation research; image forgery and intrusion detection systems using innovative machine learning techniques have been pioneered by Abertay University; the University of the Highlands & Islands has optimised tidal location renewables and tidal turbines; Stirling University's expertise helped the Scottish Curling Team win medals; Edinburgh Napier University is advancing fraud detection techniques using AI; Risk-Aware Automated Port Inspection Drones have been developed by the University of West of Scotland using AI to raise safety standards and save lives; and the University of Edinburgh's speech recognition software is used in parliaments around the world.

SICSA will work to retain Scotland's international standing in AI research through continued investment and strengthening of research pooling. It will also collaborate with other research pools and innovation centres to support the development and deployment of AI in new fields and applications.

Turing's Testers 2.0 Cyber Treasure Hunt Final - Women in Data Science Day, DataFest20. Credit: The Data Lab
A photo of people taking part in an event on ‘Women in Data Science’ day at DataFest 2020.



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