The AI Roadmap - An Overview

Taso Advisory
Jan Thu, 2021
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KEY POINTS

  • The AI Council, an expert committee of independent members set up to provide advice to the Government, has recently published their AI Roadmap.
  • The report outlines key recommendations to support the creation of a National AI Strategy.
  • These recommendations will be influential for the direction of AI policy making.
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THE CONTEXT

An independent review entitled ‘Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK,’ carried out by Dame Wendy Hall and Jerome Pesenti, was published in October 2017. The report was jointly commissioned by DCMS and BEIS, and made a series of recommendations related to data accessibility, developing AI expertise and building research. It also recommended that an AI Council be set up to “promote growth and coordination in the sector.” 

The Industrial Strategy, published in November 2017, set out a long-term plan to boost productivity in the UK, and identified AI as one of its key pillars. This led to the AI Sector Deal, which was published in April 2018. This committed roughly £1 billion from both the Government and industry to encourage AI research, development and adoption in the UK. The Office for AI, which sits jointly under DCMS and BEIS, was set up to implement the Deal and is responsible for overseeing implementation of the AI and Data Grand Challenge. The AI Council was set up following the AI Sector Deal and experts were appointed to the Council in May 2019. The AI Roadmap is its first major report. 

THE CONTENT

The AI Roadmap sets out recommendations across three main pillars largely echoing the Hall-Pesenti Review. These are:

  1. Research, Development and Innovation — recommendations include “sustainable public sector investment in AI” as well as “regional investments that draw on strengths from across the UK.”
  2. Skills and Diversity — recommendations include the commitment to “achieving AI and data literacy for everyone.”
  3. Data, Infrastructure and Public Trust — recommendations include “consolidating and accelerating the infrastructure needed to increase access to data for AI,” “leading the development of data governance options and its uses,” and “ensuring public trust through public scrutiny.”

The final section of the Roadmap outlines more specific measures to boost AI take up in healthcare, climate change, and defence.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Roadmap makes a strong case for further AI investment in the UK, and argues the importance of making the UK a leading centre for the development of AI. The most interesting contents of the Roadmap from a regulatory standpoint, however, come under the ‘Data, Infrastructure and Public Trust’ pillar. Although the Roadmap takes a very pro-AI stance, it argues that this growth should not come without safety, security, and public scrutiny on AI uses across the economy. Accordingly, it calls for:

  • Greater private sector regulation, arguing that “more work is needed to help businesses seeking to use data for AI by creating the conditions for the deployment of suitable privacy enhancing technologies.” It recommends that data sharing agreements be translated into “an actionable legal framework” and that “guidelines for legal frameworks around different data sharing structures such as trusts, cooperatives and contracts” should be established.
  • The development of a National AI Strategy to facilitate the development of data infrastructure in the UK, arguing that the public sector should lead the way in establishing such infrastructure. 
  • Enhancement of the UK’s approach to data governance, so as to ensure “data is collected, used and shared in responsible and trustworthy ways” and that a “coalition of institutions and experts work together to develop standard data sharing agreements compliant with data protection and intellectual property law.”

The Roadmap notes that one of the major obstacles to successful growth will be “public scepticism and lack of widespread legitimacy,” and also makes a series of recommendations to build public trust of AI and data usage, including:

  • Introducing a “public interest data bill,” which would “serve as a method of increasing accountability through public engagement.” 
  • Public engagement on issues related to consent of data usage, as well as increased transparency in “revealing the purposes and training data behind algorithms, as well as looking at their impacts.”

The focus on public trust hints that data ethics will take a central role in future policy conversations about AI development, use, and growth more broadly (find out more about data ethics in our previous blog). 

NEXT STEPS

The Roadmap will inform future Government policy relating to AI, including the likely development of a National AI Strategy. AI is a major policy priority for the Government as it plans how best to leverage new and emerging technologies for post-pandemic economic recovery. As such, there is wide scope for corporate engagement in this area to share industry views on the recommendations of the report with policy makers, and work with them to shape future policy.

Taso Advisory supports clients with the political, policy, and regulatory challenges they face, and helps them to design and deliver credible responses to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. We make complex challenges simple, give actionable advice, and support in delivery. You can find out more about what we do and who we work with.

For a confidential discussion about how we can support your public policy and public affairs work on AI please get in touch by emailing [email protected] or by calling +44 (0) 20 3488 4489.

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