UK publishes new generative AI guidance for civil servants; Gender equity alliance launched at Davos: news in brief

By on 25/01/2024 | Updated on 25/01/2024
A typewriter with artificial intelligence written on paper
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Global Government Forum’s digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

UK publishes new generative AI guidance for civil servants

The UK government’s Central Digital and Data Office has updated guidance on the use of AI by departments and agencies, emphasising 10 principles officials should keep in mind when working on projects involving generative AI.

Such AI models – which include large language models such as ChatGPT – generate new, synthetic data based on training data patterns and characteristics and are capable of producing text, images and other media.

In the document Generative AI Framework for HMG, released last week, David Knott, the chief technology officer for government wrote in the foreword that generative AI “has the potential to unlock significant productivity benefits” but that guidance was needed to ensure such models were used “safely and responsibly”.

Read more: AI key to ‘transform productivity’ of the civil service, says UK’s deputy PM

The 10 principles which Knott said “should be borne in mind in all generative AI projects” include knowing what generative AI is and what its limitations are; ensuring that it be used lawfully, ethically and responsibly; that associated tools be kept secure; and that there be “meaningful” human control where appropriate.  

The document lists applications including speeding up the delivery of services, reducing staff workloads, reviewing huge amounts of information, improving the accessibility of information, and perform specialist tasks, such as summarising documents, more cost-effectively.

It also outlines generative AI’s limitations, including the creation of content which appears plausible but may be factually incorrect, its ability to generate biased, offensive or inappropriate content, and difficulty explaining the “inner workings” of the model which has implications if decisioning based on AI is challenged.

The framework is more comprehensive than initial guidance published in June 2023 but Knott acknowledged that it is “necessarily incomplete and dynamic” because the field of generative AI is developing rapidly and best practice is not yet accepted. He said the guidance would be updated frequently.  

Read more: Governments set out plan to ensure AI safety as US makes bid to lead standards

Gender equity alliance launched at Davos

A new alliance was launched at the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, focused on identifying global best practice and sharing knowledge and investments in the areas of women’s health, education, and enterprise.

The Alliance for Global Good- Gender Equity and Equality is being led by India with endorsement from the Forum, and was established following the G20 Summit in India in 2023 at which Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and other leaders expressed commitment to women-led development.

The Alliance – which will operate from the CII Centre for Women Leadership in New Delhi – is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and over 10,000 companies including Mastercard, Uber and Bayer.

Unveiled by Smriti Zubin Irani, minister of women & child development and minority affairs, India hopes the Alliance will be a driving force in tackling gender-related challenges worldwide.

Register to become a member of the Global Government Women’s Network

US government sets sights on training in-house tech-hiring specialists

The US federal government has launched a challenge designed to gather ideas for how to train government HR professionals to become experts in hiring tech talent.

The challenge – in which participants are eligible for prize money up to US$880,000 – seeks “innovative ideas and approaches” for the creation of a training and development programme that would turn out tech-hiring professionals “crucial to the success of digital service teams across the government”.

It is being run by the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Digital Service, and the winner will be charged with developing and leading a pilot programme to test the feasibility of their training model for HR feds.

“Agencies across the federal government continue to experience difficulties in hiring people with the technical skills to modernise and manage the technology tools necessary to implement programmes and fulfil their mission,” the page notes.

It says problems include the time it takes to hire qualified technical experts, which currently measures “in months rather than weeks” causing agencies to lose candidates to faster-moving organisations; agencies’ failure to assess subject-matter expertise at the outset, impacting the calibre of applicants on shortlists; and staff’s inability to leverage modern sourcing and recruiting methods, affecting the diversity and effectiveness of hiring pools.

The challenge is designed to fill gaps in how agencies identify, evaluate, hire and onboard tech talent.

The submission deadline for the first of three phases is 29 February, with a winner expected to be announced on 5 October 2024.  

Read more: US federal agency’s tech hiring drive pays dividends

Find out what happened at Global Government Leaders’ Forum 2024

The Global Government Leaders’ Forum 2024 brought together heads of civil services from across the globe to discuss the key issues facing government. Here are the key insights from speakers at the sessions held at the Civil Service College, Singapore on 23 January 2024.

Join Global Government Forum’s LinkedIn group to keep up to date with all the insight public and civil servants need to know.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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