UK ‘strong possibility’ of taking third place for AI

An expansive new study by the Big Innovation Centre, Deep Knowledge Analytics and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence concludes the UK is well placed to compete globally in the augmented economy.

APPG AI launch at the House of Lords

Ruth Holmes

Launched last week ahead at the House of Lords by the informal All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence (APPG AI), and research and innovation organisations the Big Innovation Centre and Deep Knowledge Analytics, the 2,200-page report analyses the UK’s AI infrastructure.Assessing five areas – including financing, skills and talent, ethical and legislative frameworks – the report concludes “the UK is the best contender for number three [behind the US and China] and has the strong possibility to outcompete the EU, Canada and Southeast Asia (excluding China).”
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UK’s world-leadership potential for AI

AI in the UK: Artificial Intelligence Industry landscape Overview Q3/2018 includes the individual profiles of the 1000 companies, 600 investors, 80 influencers, 35 tech hubs and research institutes, and multiple private and government entities leading the development of the UK AI-industryAPPG AI co-chair Lord Clement-Jones commended the report for offering business leaders and policy makers a “clear-sighted” view of the UK’s position in the international context.With AI investment a high priority in the government’s Industrial Strategy, Lord Clement-Jones, a Liberal Democrat peer and the party’s spokesperson for the digital economy, said, “It shows there is some justification for our own self-belief about how we have progressed.”

Strengths and weaknesses in UK AI infrastructure

Report author, Professor Birgitte Andersen, added that for the UK to outpace competition from challenger nations the UK must overcome challenges like a talent brain drain and the uneven distribution of advances across sectors. Professor Andersen highlighted EdTech and GovTech as among the key strategic areas suffering from “a clear lack of development”. Nevertheless, to beat global competition from countries including Canada, Israel, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, and regions like the EU and Southeast Asia, the UK has “considerable prospects of becoming an international leader” in specific niches. These include healthcare and fintech, and the development of “AI ethics, governance and safety frameworks on a global scale.”

AI and the Industrial Strategy

Overall, the report finds the UK has all the elements and building blocks required to become a leader in AI, including investment and government support. However, looking ahead to Philip Hammond’s budget, Professor Andersen said the time is now to affirm the UK’s prospects with further government backing.“The UK can be a global leader in AI. We are now in a very good position. The budget is very important for a chance to cement the AI economy with backing from the government. When it comes to AI, big is good. But big is even better when it comes to AI.”

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