Scotland’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy (“AI Strategy”) was launched today (22 March 2021) with the objective of setting out a clear roadmap as to how Scotland will become a leader in the development and use of AI in a trustworthy, ethical, and inclusive manner. The AI Strategy follows on from extensive consultation with the public, industry, the public sector and academia.

Background to AI

In Scotland, AI has prospered with many universities, businesses, and public sector organisations using the opportunity to create new and exciting innovations for public benefit. Examples of recent innovations include the development of video camera capsules to diagnose diseases of the digestive tract as well as the development of new medicine by AI to treat patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. These examples are just some of they ways in which AI has been developed in Scotland, particularly in the healthcare industry.

As the use of AI continues to grow, there remain concerns about the technology, the potential for bias and a perceived lack of transparency and public trust. In response to this, the AI Strategy has been launched to help unlock AI’s potential and will be supported by the development and adoption of the Scottish AI Playbook, an open guide to the adopted principles, practices and actions. A National AI Strategy by the UK Government is also expected to be published later this year.

Scotland’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy

The AI Strategy recognises the developments in AI within Scotland, the opportunities and concerns associated with this, and looks to provide a roadmap for AI in Scotland going forward. The AI Strategy looks to shape the direction of AI in Scotland ensuring that it facilitates its growth but also ensuring it remains fair, greener, ethical, and inclusive.

In particular, the AI Strategy is guided by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s five value-based principles for responsible and trustworthy AI. These principles can broadly be summarised as ensuring (i) AI benefits people and the planet, (ii) AI systems respect the rule of law, human rights, democratic values and diversity, (iii) transparency and understanding, (iv) security and (v) accountability.

To achieve these aims and principles, the AI Strategy has developed three steps, referred to as ‘three parallel tracks’, which are:

  1. Establish collective leadership through the Scottish AI Alliance, an “open-to-all stakeholder group with representation from across society”
  2. Create the foundation for success, and
  3. Build an AI Powerhouse.

The second and third tracks have been created to priorities the key objectives to progress AI in Scotland whilst the first track establishes the body that will deliver these objectives. The Scottish AI Alliance will consist of four groups (community, support, leadership, and delivery) working together to achieve the same goal. Each group will have different functions and there is the opportunity for individuals with an involvement or interest in AI to be involved in the community circle.


The adoption of the AI Strategy is an important step in ensuring there is suitable influence over the development of AI in Scotland. This will help instill greater public confidence in the technology and allow AI to continue to prosper in Scotland whilst being ‘trustworthy, ethical and inclusive’.

Our Partner, David Gourlay, was a member of the Working Group on Ethical & Regulatory Frameworks which helped contribute to the AI strategy development process. If you are involved in the development or deployment of AI technology, our team of experts can advise you on the legal considerations.

The AI Strategy can be found here.