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 AI Roadmap sets out recommendations across three main pillars largely echoing the Hall-Pesenti Review. These are:
The final section of the Roadmap outlines more specific measures to boost AI take up in healthcare, climate change, and defence.
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:
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:
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).
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.
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