Artificial Intelligence (AI) is continuing to transform industries with many organisations hoping to adopt and integrate AI into their operations. This has led many organisations to ask whether they should look at adding a dedicated Chief AI Officer (CAIO)

Katie Simmonds, Managing Associate at Womble Bond Dickinson, specialising in data privacy, cybersecurity, digital regulation and technology transactions described the importance of the role saying that:

“Adding a CAIO to the C-suite can be the difference between thriving and failing in this digital age. With their expertise businesses can navigate the complex legal landscape and reap the benefits of AI without compromising ethics or safety.”

How is AI regulated in the UK?

Alastair Mitton, Partner at Womble Bond Dickinson specialising in commercial IT and technology matters often in large-scale technology implementations, described the current regulation of AI and its ethical properties:

“As is almost always the case, the tech is developing faster than regulators can keep up with. This is particularly true in the context of AI. Coupled with increased access to the huge computing power which AI can use to crunch vast quantities of information extremely quickly, it is no surprise that we are seeing a watershed moment in public awareness of what AI is capable of.

“AI is being adopted by a breadth of industries and can provide companies with a range of benefits from profit growth, increased efficiency, improved customer service and better talent management through to improved logistics, safer work environments, possible new capabilities, and business models, to name just a few. However, for these benefits to be actualised, organisations must be able to bridge the gap between the growth and adoption of AI with regulations and ethics, which is essential in a world where AI is making such big strides.

If companies don’t jump on the AI bandwagon they’ll likely be left behind and suffer as a result; but to do this, they must navigate the complex world of AI adoption. One way to do that is to add a CAIO to the C-suite.”

How would a Chief AI Officer support the adoption of AI? 

The UK Government's AI strategy sets out several core principles aimed at encouraging innovation and utilising AI, while ensuring that public and fundamental rights are protected. One of these is the need to have "an identified legal person" that is responsible for AI, similar to a data protection officer, to ensure the proper application of policies and legislation and, ultimately, who is responsible for taking action when things go wrong.

This role would bridge the technical function and understanding of the outputs of that technology, the legal risks and the ethics. This trend is likely to continue as we see the new AI Regulation come into force in the EU, alongside the expected sector specific AI guidance in the UK.

Katie concluded that:

“Having a CAIO on board can be a game-changer for businesses; it can help overcome considerable challenges and ensure the right decisions are made when it comes to AI adoption. In fact, adding a Chief AI Officer to an organisation can be the deciding factor between success and failure, which, in today’s increasingly digitised world, many would argue is non-negotiable.”

This article is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice.