New guidance issued on machine learning principles

by | Jun 4, 2024

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released guidance aimed at assisting developers, engineers, decision-makers, and risk owners in the creation and use of machine learning systems.

Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence where computers automatically find patterns in data or solve problems. To illustrate, imagine teaching a child to recognize different animals. Instead of listing all the rules to identify a cat or a dog, you show the child numerous pictures of cats and dogs, and tell them which is which. Over time, the child gets better at distinguishing between cats and dogs just by looking at them.

Similarly, machine learning involves teaching computers by example. Rather than providing a computer with a strict set of instructions for every possible scenario, you feed it a large number of examples, and it learns from them. For example, to teach a computer to recognize spam emails, you show it many emails labeled as “spam” and “not spam.” The computer analyzes these examples, identifies patterns, and eventually learns to predict whether a new email is spam based on what it has learned.

In essence, machine learning is about training computers to learn from examples so they can make decisions or predictions independently.

Given the rapid development in machine learning, the NCSC is concerned that security might be considered a secondary issue. They advocate for integrating security into the design process from the beginning and ensuring it remains a core requirement throughout the machine learning system’s lifecycle.

The new guidance offers principles to help developers, engineers, and decision-makers make informed choices about their systems. The ultimate goal is to reassure stakeholders and end users that a machine learning system is both safe and secure.

To review the guidance in full, visit the NCSC website.

For personalized advice on how these principles might affect your business, get in touch with our Wimbledon accountants. Our experts can help you ensure that your machine learning systems are secure and compliant with the latest standards.