UK should resist ‘over-regulating’ AI says founder of British tech startup

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The founder of a fast growing British tech startup, RobinAI, has said he believes the UK should resist over-regulating AI.

The founder of a fast-growing British tech startup, RobinAI, has said he believes the UK should resist over-regulating artificial intelligence (AI) so it can embrace innovation and create the world’s next mega companies.

Richard Robinson, a former Clifford Chance lawyer, told City A.M. he thinks it is unwise “to create a bespoke regulatory body whose sole purpose in life is to regulate AI.”

“I think in general, we don’t want to over regulate this industry, particularly in the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have some really great AI companies. We’ve got some of the best in the world in this space, and this is a chance for England to actually produce generational companies.”

The British government is currently exploring how to take control over the nascent technology which exploded last year after generative AI chatbot ChatGPT emerged on the scene.

Richard Robinson, founder and chief executive of RobinAI (Image credit: RobinAI)

Last week it said it is prepping existing watchdogs including Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to take an “agile” approach to AI regulation.

Despite some criticisms that the proposals lacked urgency, Robinson was supportive of them because he believes the risks of AI can be managed “just through normal regulatory mechanisms.”

“I really don’t want us to make the classic European mistake of getting excited about regulation when we should be excited about innovation,” he explained.

Using its ‘AI legal assistant’, tech startup RobinAI says it is able to speed up contract negotiations by 85 per cent. It was originally designed to serve in-house legal teams but it now also has global clients in insurance, financial services, construction, alternative assets and private equity.

It comes as an increasing number of lawyers are using generative AI tools more often. Over a quarter are using tools like Chat GPT every month, with that figure up from 11 per cent half a year ago, according to a survey by Lexisnexis.

RobinAI secured $26m (£20.6m) in its recent series B funding round led by Singaporean firm Temasek alongside QuantumLight, Plural and AFG Partners. London based early-stage investment fund Plural led a $10.5m (£8.3m) series A round less than a year earlier.

The City-headquartered tech startup is using the funding to grow its presence in the US and in Singapore, create new products and improve its current models so they can work on a greater number of contracts and in more languages.

In a speech ahead of the UK’s AI Safety Summit held last November, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “start-ups like Robin AI are revolutionising the legal profession”.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Last year Sunak announced his ambitions to “cement the UK as a science and tech superpower by 2030”. But his pro-innovation and ‘light touch’ regulatory approach prompted some concerns the tech – and companies gaining from it – could spiral out of control.

Many in the tech community have spoken out about potential dangers of leaving AI unregulated; the government itself warned it is unable to rule out that AI poses an “existential threat” to humanity.

An AI Safety Institute – based on the work of the AI Safety Taskforce – is part of the government’s plan to address these potential threats.

Robinson said Americans are historically very good at embracing innovation and, as a result, they have built five of the most significant companies in the world, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon.

“I want us to be in that conversation,” Robinson said.

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