Scottish Government Under Scrutiny for Handling of AI in Pandemic Response


  • Scottish officials considered skipping ethics for AI in COVID response, sparking calls for better regulation.
  • AI helped fight the pandemic, but concerns linger in the Scottish government.
  • Government vows to use AI ethically while partnerships advance Scotland’s AI strategy.

Recent revelations have shed light on discussions within the Scottish Government regarding using artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Amidst concerns over transparency and ethics, senior figures reportedly considered sidelining ethical considerations to expedite crisis responses. 

These insights come amidst broader scrutiny over the government’s data management and communication during crucial pandemic-related discussions.

Ethical concerns raised

A new academic study conducted by the University of the West of Scotland delves into the use of AI by the Scottish National Party (SNP) administration. Interviews with civil servants, public sector employees, and AI experts unveiled apprehensions about ethical obstacles. 

Some feared potentially exploiting individuals’ health data by private entities, reminiscent of past data scandals like Cambridge Analytica. The study highlighted efforts by the government to acclimate the public to AI and Big Data usage despite internal skepticism regarding transparency and openness.

The revelations have sparked calls for greater oversight and regulation of AI technologies within the Scottish Government. Concerns over a perceived cavalier attitude towards record-keeping and data management during the pandemic have intensified. 

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have emphasized upholding civil liberties and ensuring that technological advancements do not outpace regulatory frameworks. They advocate for robust safeguards and appropriate data usage and storage practices to be implemented.

Role of AI in pandemic response

AI technology has played a significant role in combating the pandemic globally, aiding in vaccine and treatment research, variant prediction, and surveillance. Reports suggest that AI systems detected the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China before it gained widespread awareness. Despite its potential benefits, the Scottish Government’s cautious approach to AI adoption reflects historical IT failures and a general aversion to risk.

Government response and future directions

In response to the scrutiny, a Scottish government spokesman emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring the ethical and inclusive use of AI in Scotland. Partnerships such as the AI Alliance, established in collaboration with The Data Lab, aim to advance Scotland’s AI Strategy. 

The recent launch of the AI Register signifies efforts to address algorithmic transparency and accountability concerns. Initial projects on the register, including proposals to utilize AI in identifying children at risk of sexual exploitation, exemplify the government’s strategic focus on leveraging AI for societal benefit.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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James Kinoti

A crypto enthusiast, James finds pleasure in sharing knowledge on fintech, cryptocurrency as well as blockchain and frontier technologies. The latest innovations in the crypto industry, crypto gaming, AI, blockchain technology, and other technologies are his preoccupation. His mission: be on track with transformative applications in various industries.

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