The UK recently published its National AI Strategy, detailing its plan to become a leading global AI superpower within the next decade. The paper discusses the country’s aims to position itself as an international leader in the governance of AI technologies, including plans for a white paper on AI regulation. It also lays the foundations for a new National AI Research and Innovation Programme alongside a review of the UK’s future computing capacity to ensure the country discovers and develops the latest innovations.
This was the UK’s first AI strategy, published on the third day of London Tech Week – marking a notable change in the country’s approach to the most rapidly growing emerging technology in the world. At present, the UK is ranked third globally for private venture capital, just after the US and China, and is home to a third of Europe’s total AI companies, making it already an attractive spot for investment.
Following the unprecedented shift towards a more digitised way of living over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, sectors such as retail, education and healthcare have been amongst those which have benefitted most from the deployment of AI systems. Allowing for the execution of COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing, online consultations and home delivery. AI has not just helped in easing the weight of such restrictions on these sectors but also how each of us live our daily lives – it is for this reason that it is here to stay. Thus, by investing now, the inevitable transition to a more AI-supported life will only be easier, allowing for the UK to position itself as superpower, paving the way for a more digitised way of living.
The strategy aims to educate and equip people with the tools necessary to develop the next generation of AI talent through continued support for postgraduate learning, retraining and making sure children from a wider group of backgrounds can access specialist courses. This will stabilise the UK’s position in raising standards around the use of the technology while building the case for deeper investor confidence.
Such plans include the following:
- Launch a National AI Research and Innovation Programme to improve coordination and collaboration between the country’s researchers, helping to transform the UK’s AI capabilities, while boosting business and public sector adoption of AI technologies and their ability to take them to market.
- Support the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda by launching a joint Office for AI (OAI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) programme aimed at continuing the development of AI in sectors based in London and the South East.
- Publish a joint review with UKRI into the availability and capacity of computing power for UK researchers and organisations, including the physical hardware needed to drive a major roll out in AI technologies. This review will also consider the wider needs for the commercialisation and deployment of AI, including its environmental impacts.
- Launch a consultation on copyright and patents for AI through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to make sure the UK is capitalising on the ideas it generates and by best supporting AI development and use through the copyright and patent system. This consultation will also include a focus on how to protect AI generated inventions which would otherwise not meet inventorship criteria as well as measures to make it easier to use copyright protected material in AI development.
- Trialling an AI Standards Hub to coordinate UK engagement in setting the rules globally and working with The Alan Turing Institute to update guidance on AI ethics and safety in the publish sector and create practical tools to make sure the technology is used ethically.
This report undoubtedly lays the foundations for an ambitious ten years of growth of unleashing the potential of AI within the UK as well as establishing the country as a key player in the shaping of how the world governs this technology. DCMS Minister Chris Philp stated:
“[National AI Strategy] focuses on three pillars which include making sure the country invests in the long term growth of AI; that it benefits all sectors and regions of the economy; and that it is governed effectively by adequate rules which encourage innovation, investment and protect the public and the country’s fundamental values.“
For this strategy to succeed, it is imperative that the government focus on operationalising said strategy to ensure it supports businesses and communities across all sectors and regions to adopt and use AI. Through building the country’s AI capabilities from the ground up, via education and the facilitation of access to training courses to all ages, the UK makes itself an attractive venture for potential investment on a global level. With more than £2.3 billion in investment since 2013, the UK is hoping to soon establish itself as ‘The Home of AI’. This investment is promising to existing and potential investors and proves the government’s dedication and belief in not just AI, but in the future of tech as a whole.