UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


MPA Candidates discuss future of AI standards at BSI conference

9 June 2022

A team of MPA candidates presented their research on the future of AI standards at the 2022 BSI Spring Standards Conference.

MPA students with their research poster at the BSI Spring conference

Four members of the team, which includes Ana Alania, Agustina Callegari, Amaya “Kiki” Hana, Ahmad Firdaus “Fido” Ahmad Azman, Sierra Shell and Yuri Ohkura, attended the 2022 BSI Spring Standards Conference on 25 and 26 May to present their research which focuses on the role of standards in fostering responsible use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Their research, which is being carried out as part of the MPA Final Project and in partnership with the BSI, aims to better understand how standards can provide a roadmap for the safe and secure implementation of AI use

The team’s work focuses on three areas to support this, including:

  • Anticipating how standards can support the needs arising from current and future AI regulation;
  • Understanding how standards can foster responsible AI innovation, removing barriers to adoption while ensuring safety and security;
  • Exploring how standards can help directly address future risks and harms emerging from continuously evolving AI technologies and applications.

In the realm of AI and beyond, standards are generated through a process which includes the input of technical experts and engineers, academics specializing in various technologies, and other industry and government professionals. Together, these stakeholders produce technical specifications which act as a guide, or set of ‘best practices’, leading to safer, interoperable, consistent, and more effective adoption of technologies. Standards can be created to support new regulation but are produced for other reasons as well.

Their research will help to identify future AI standardisation requirements and directions that can support emerging regulatory proposals, enable responsible AI adoption and innovation, and help AI developers and users mitigate emerging risks and harms.

The 2022 BSI Spring Standards Conference, which this year covered the theme of People, Digitalization and Sustainability, gave the team the opportunity to present their research questions and methodology and receive feedback and questions from conference attendees. The students also attended a number of talks and took part in a recorded conversation with the BSI on their project and the importance of standards.

Reflecting on their experience, Ana Alania, said: "The 2022 BSI Spring Standards Conference was such a great opportunity to showcase our MPA research on the future of AI Standards. It was very encouraging to see so many experts interested in our project and we’ve had many attendees showing interest in sharing their views and expertise to enrich our inquiry on the topic. I found the panel discussions especially informative, as they explored the key themes around future readiness, resilience and foresight research. We were fortunate to be able to ask questions, engage with the panelists during breaks and get their feedback on our research direction.”

Sierra Shell said: "The conference provided an excellent avenue for making connections across different subjects and understanding the intersection between our topic and others.  For example, the afternoon sessions focused on sustainability, the threat of climate change, and the role standards might play in mitigating that risk. Though we aren’t focused on the sustainability angle in our Future of AI Standards project, a horizontal technology like AI will surely have a part to play in climate data analysis and perhaps even adaptation policy. I found the conference inspiring and energizing. We were lucky to engage in such interesting conversations with standards experts and consumers from many different fields.

The BSI is the UK’s national standards body and has a longstanding collaboration with UCL STEaPP, led by Dr Irina Brass, on a number of projects to develop knowledge of standards and their role in supporting innovation in science and engineering.