Positioning the UK as a global leader in Artificial Intelligence technologies

The UK government has announced a new ten-year strategy to ensure that Britain is a global leader in Artificial Intelligence technologies.

The UK has officially launched its first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy in order to help secure its place as a global science leader and to utilise the capacity of the latest technologies to enhance peoples’ lives and address global issues like climate change and public health.

AI technologies underlie the technology and applications we use daily. This includes functions such as assisting our navigation around cities and preventing online banking fraud by facilitating voice recognition in smart speakers. AI has also helped with the advancement of disease diagnosis and has enabled driverless cars becoming a reality. On top of the benefits that AI has already facilitated in our daily lives, it is anticipated that it will provide thousands of unforeseen benefits in the future.

The UK’s first AI strategy marks a clear step forward in the country’s approach to the fastest evolving emerging technology on Earth. There are plans to introduce a novel national programme and method to facilitate further research and development, publish a white paper on the governance and regulation of AI to build confidence in its utilisation, as well as action to assist organisations in every region and sector take advantage of the power of AI technologies.

The UK as a world leader in AI

Currently, the UK is ranked third in the world for private venture capital investment into AI companies (2019 investment into the UK reached almost £2.5bn) and is also home to a third of Europe’s total AI companies.

Together with actions to advance the next generation of AI talent via sustained support for postgraduate learning, retraining, and ensuring children from wide backgrounds are able to access specialist courses, the strategy will place the UK as a global leader in raising the standards around the use of the technology, whilst also making the case for deeper investor confidence.

The new strategy

The UK’s novel AI strategy includes:

  • Launching a National AI Research and Innovation Programme to enhance coordination and cooperation between the country’s researchers and assisting with the transformation of the UK’s AI abilities, whilst boosting business and public sector adoption of AI technologies and their ability to take them to market.
  • Supporting the government’s levelling up agenda by introducing a joint Office for AI (OAI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) programme directed at maintaining the development of AI in sectors based outside of London and the South East.
  • Publishing a collaborative review with UKRI into the accessibility and capability of computing power for UK researchers and organisations, exploring the factors such as the physical hardware necessary to facilitate a major roll out in AI technologies.

AI research and innovation

The UKRI has welcomed the new Artificial Intelligence strategy. EPSRC Executive Chair, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden commented: “UKRI fully embraces the opportunity of AI, as recognised in the government’s AI strategy.

“Research and innovation are key to ensuring that the potential of AI is realised across society and the economy. It is UKRI’s ambition to build upon the UK’s strengths in AI research and innovation to unlock the potential benefits of these technologies.

“We are working with our partners in academia, business and government to establish a national AI research and innovation programme that creates an environment in which world-leading researchers and innovators will thrive.”

DCMS Minister Chris Philp explained: “Artificial intelligence technologies generate billions for the economy and improve our lives. They power the technology we use on a daily basis and help save lives through better disease diagnosis and drug discovery.

“The UK already punches above its weight internationally and we are ranked third in the world behind the USA and China in the list of top countries for AI.

“Today we are laying the foundations for the next ten years’ growth with a strategy to help us seize the potential of artificial intelligence and play a leading role in shaping the way the world governs it.”

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance added: “AI technologies have the capacity to fundamentally transform many aspects of the way we live and work.

“The UK is already a world leader in certain aspects of AI – and this strategy helps to define how to enhance those capabilities further to ensure that the UK can both develop and use AI for the benefit of citizens.”

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