The UK’s AI Council has published an AI roadmap that outlines 16 recommendations to the UK government for its AI strategy:
Research, Development & Innovation
- Scale up and make sustainable public sector investment in AI; ensure consistent access to top talent from around the world; and find new ways to bring researchers, disciplines and sectors together. Build on the commitments in the government’s R&D Roadmap and suggestions in the soon to be published UKRI AI review.
- Cement The Alan Turing Institute as a truly national institute, with a set of regional investments that draw on strengths from across the UK. Provide assured long term public sector funding that will give the Turing and others the confidence to plan and invest in strategic leadership for the UK in AI research, development and innovation.
- Ensure moonshots, as described in the R&D Roadmap as challenge-led, high-risk, scalable programmes, are both advancing and leveraging AI. These could tackle fundamental challenges such as creating “explainable AI”, or important goals in any area where AI can contribute strongly, such as the UK Digital Twin program or developing smart materials for energy storage in the move towards Net Zero carbon emissions.
Skills and Diversity
- Scale up and commit to an ongoing 10 year programme of high level AI skill-building. This would include research fellowships, AI-relevant PhDs across disciplines, industry-led Masters and level 7 apprenticeships.
- Make diversity and inclusion a priority. We suggest benchmarking and forensically tracking levels of diversity to make data-led decisions about where to invest and ensure that underrepresented groups are given equal opportunity and included in all programs.
- Commit to achieving AI and data literacy for everyone. The public needs to understand the risks and rewards of AI so they can be confident and informed users. An Online Academy for understanding AI, with trusted materials and initiatives would support teachers, school students and lifelong learning.
Data, Infrastructure and Public Trust
- Consolidate and accelerate the infrastructure needed to increase access to data for AI. Invest in the relevant organisations, link general principles to specific applications, and pursue initiatives for pump priming innovation and enabling safe data sharing for valuable uses.
- Lead the development of data governance options and its uses. The UK should lead in developing appropriate standards to frame the future governance of data.
- Ensure public trust through public scrutiny. The UK must lead in finding ways to enable public scrutiny of, and input to, automated decision-making and help ensure that the public can trust AI.
- Thoughtfully position the UK with respect to other major AI nations. Building on its strengths, the UK has a crucial opportunity to become a global lead in good governance, standards and frameworks for AI and enhance bilateral cooperation with key actors.
National, Cross-sector Adoption
- Increase buyer confidence and AI capability across all sectors and all sizes of company. Support investment for local initiatives to enable safe value-creating innovation and improve the data maturity needed for AI innovation.
- Support the UK’s AI startup vendor community. Enable greater access to data, infrastructure, skills, compute, specialist knowledge and funds.
- Enable robust public sector investments in AI, building capability in the use of data, analytics and AI to ensure intelligent procurement of AI as part of projects for public benefit.
- Use AI to meet the challenges of Net Zero carbon emissions. Work on access to data, governance, to develop cleaner systems, products and services.
- Use AI to help keep the country safe and secure. Work with government departments/agencies and defence and security companies to ensure AI is available to assess and respond to modern defence and security threats and opportunities.
- Build on the work of NHSX and others to lead the way in using AI to improve outcomes and create value in healthcare. The UK’s comparative advantage will depend on smart strategies for data sharing, new partnership models with SMEs and skill-building.
The University of Southampton’s Professor Dame Wendy HallDame Wendy Hall is Regius Professor in Computer Science at the University of Southampton and Executive Director of the Web Science Institute. She co-chaired the UK government’s AI Review … Continue reading, a member of the AI Council, welcomed the roadmap and sees it as an important step in driving forward the UK’s AI agenda:
“The state of AI has changed much since then, and I am very much looking forward to being part of developing the ideas and recommendations described in the Roadmap. In particular, it is vital we keep our foot firmly on the accelerator with regards to skills and diversity.”
Howard Covington, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the The Alan Turing Institute, also welcomed the roadmap and the recommendations for his institute’s role in future AI initiatives. He outlined the need for sustained investment in this sector if it is to fulfil its potential:
“…a National Strategy for AI will be critical if the nation is to fulfil its potential. These are challenging times which require not just investment, but clear-minded, strategic thinking which will harness the UK’s unrivalled legacy, expertise and innovation in AI. I am confident that the recommendations set out in the Roadmap can create an exciting pathway to future AI success despite the uncertainty of our times. It is more critical than ever that we get this right.”
Sue McLean at Baker McKenzie has examined the roadmap from a legal perspectives and sees the “Data, Infrastructure and Public Trust” recommendations as most interesting from a legal and regulatory perspective. She highlights data governance, data sharing, the need for flexible regulation and public trust as areas which need careful consideration.
Lindsay Clark at The Register takes a more critical view of the validity of the recommendations outlined in the roadmap based on the the AI Council’s membership. He believes the medical sector, potentially a major user of AI solutions, is under-represented while he questions the inclusion of some corporate members.
At the end of the day, it will come down to how receptive the UK government is to the report. Implementing many of the recommendations will require significant investments and joined-up policy making across departments. The UK has solid foundations both commercially and academically to become a leader in this field. AI and associated technologies are going to transform entire industries whatever happens and we have an opportunity to help shape this revolution for the benefit of the many.
|↑1||Dame Wendy Hall is Regius Professor in Computer Science at the University of Southampton and Executive Director of the Web Science Institute. She co-chaired the UK government’s AI Review published in 2017.|