A lack of regulation is holding back investment in burgeoning technologies like AI and “guardrails” are needed to make them “investable at scale”, the UK’s science minister warned today.  

Speaking with City A.M. at the government’s Global Investment Summit at Hampton Court Palace, the newly appointed minister for science and technology Andrew Griffith said that the government is looking to draw up rules around technologies including AI, clean aviation and drones to allow firms to innovate.

“On AI, the strategy is to be a world leader and get the right balanced regulatory environment to do that, because you need some regulation, some guardrails to make artificial intelligence investable at scale,” Griffith said.

Despite holding its AI Safety Summit last month, the UK’s first minister for AI and intellectual property, Viscount Jonathan Camrose, has ruled out introducing legislation to regulate AI in the “short term” so as not to hamper growth in the sector.

Premature regulation risked “stifling innovation”, Camrose told a conference last week.

Europe has surged ahead of the US and UK on drawing up rules to govern AI, with Brussels lawmakers moving to draft rules last month.

However, the UK was among 12 countries to sign a new agreement yesterday to keep AI safe from rogue actors and create AI systems that are “secure by design.”

Ministers have also previously backed plans to introduce a so-called regulatory sandbox for AI products to allow firms to “experiment with new products or services under enhanced regulatory supervision without the risk of fines or liability.”

Griffith’s comments come as the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology separately today confirmed that it would roll out three new so-called ‘regulatory sandboxes’ to allow companies to test new technology under controlled market conditions before launch.

Under the plans, firms will be able to test drones, aviation and self-piloting marine technology before launching products to the market.

Griffith said the amount of capital was “rarely the limiting factor” and more “regulatory certainty” was needed to shore up the development and investment in new technologies.