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The use of generative AI in government

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The exploration phase 

Many organisations are looking at how generative artificial intelligence will help and challenge their businesses. And government is no different. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies offer the potential to transform the UK’s economic landscape and improve people’s lives across the country.

It is critical therefore to both our economic and national security that the UK prepares for both the benefits, and of course the risks, that AI brings.  The Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) has been working on guidance for government, highlighting the opportunities and outlining some of the dangers associated with this technology.

The advisory stage 

Building on advice from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and guidance produced by the  Department for Education (DfE) for use in the education sector,  CDDO has developed internal guidance for the use of AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) across the Civil Service. As the newly appointed Chief Technology Officer for UK Government at CDDO I’m pleased to see that we’re actively encouraging and enabling civil servants to get familiar with the technology and the benefits it could provide, but to do so in a safe and responsible manner. 

In summary, the guidance states that:

  • Civil servants are encouraged to use emerging technologies that could improve the productivity of government, while complying with all data protection and security protocols.
  • Civil servants should never input information that is classified, sensitive or reveals the intent of government (that may not be in the public domain) into public tools.
  • All civil servants are expected to comply with data protection and security protocols when handling sensitive information, always paying regard to the principles of GDPR. 
  • Output from Generative AI is susceptible to bias and misinformation, and needs to be checked and cited appropriately.

The next stage 

The guidance will be iterative, and subject to a review after six months, to address emerging practices and better understanding of this technology. It forms part of the Transforming for a Digital Future roadmap which made a commitment for the government to identify and capture opportunities with emerging technologies.

Read the general principles on the government’s use of generative artificial intelligence (AI), which can be used to create new text, images, video, audio, or code.

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