British government report makes 18 recommendations on growing UK artificial intelligence sector

British government report makes 18 recommendations on growing UK artificial intelligence sector

Increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) can bring major social and economic benefits to the UK, says a new British government report. It makes 18 recommendations on increasing ease of access to data in a wide range of sectors that will ultimately enhance the use of AI for the benefit of the economy.

With AI, computers can analyze and learn from information at higher accuracy and speed than humans can. AI offers massive gains in efficiency and performance to most or all industry sectors, from drug discovery to logistics. AI is software that can be integrated into existing processes, improving them, scaling them, and reducing their costs, by making or suggesting more accurate decisions through better use of information.

The report estimates that AI could add an additional USD $814 billion (£630bn) to the UK economy by 2035, increasing the annual growth rate of GVA (gross value added) from 2.5 to 3.9 percent.

Key factors have combined to increase the capability of AI in recent years, in particular:

  • New and larger volumes of data
  • Supply of experts with the specific high-level skills
  • Availability of increasingly powerful computing capacity. The barriers to achieving performance have fallen significantly, and continue to fall.

To continue developing and applying AI, the UK will need to increase ease of access to data in a wider range of sectors. This Review recommends:

  • Development of data trusts, to improve trust and ease around sharing data
  • Making more research data machine readable
  • Supporting text and data mining as a standard and essential tool for research.

Skilled experts are needed to develop AI, and they are in short supply. To develop more AI, the UK will need a larger workforce with deep AI expertise, and more development of lower level skills to work with AI. The report recommends:

  • An industry-funded masters program in AI
  • Market research to develop conversion courses in AI that meet employers’ needs
  • 200 more PhD places in AI at leading UK universities, attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds and from around the world.
  • Credit-bearing AI online courses and continuing professional development leading to MScs
  • Greater diversity in the AI workforce
  • An international AI Fellowship Program for the UK.

The report recommends:

  • The Alan Turing Institute should become the national institute for artificial intelligence and data science
  • Universities should promote standardization in transfer of IP
  • Computing capacity for AI research should be coordinated and negotiated.

Increasing uptake of AI means increasing demand as well as supply through a better understanding of what AI can do and where it could be applied. The report recommends:

  • An AI Council to promote growth and coordination in the sector
  • Guidance on how to explain decisions and processes enabled by AI
  • Support for export and inward investment
  • Guidance on successfully applying AI to drive improvements in industry
  • A program to support public sector use of AI
  • Funded challenges around data held by public organizations.

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