AI Council publish AI Roadmap report
The AI Council yesterday published its AI Roadmap report. This summary report sets out long-term ambitions and suggests near-term directions for all government departments, with the aim of cementing the UK as one of the very best places in the world to live with, work with and develop AI.
The roadmap focuses specifically on four pillars: Research, Development & Innovation; Skills and Diversity, and Data, Infrastructure and Public Trust and National, Cross-sector Adoption. It also includes 16 recommendations to help government develop a UK National AI Strategy (highlighted below).
Research, Development and 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 Data, Infrastructure and Public Trust National, Cross-sector Adoption
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.
Over 450 people, including techUK, provided feedback on the Roadmap last year. In order to support the government, the AI Council will now convene workshops with the wider ecosystem in order to capture more detail and work together to ensure that a future National AI Strategy enables the whole of the UK to flourish.
In response to the publication Katherine Holden, Head of Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID, yesterday commented:
“To remain a world-leader in AI we must ensure the UK has a clear, up-to-date strategy. The AI Council’s Roadmap is a significant step towards creating a National AI strategy, and following necessary stakeholder engagement the UK Government must convert these recommendations into action at pace; ensuring alignment with the UK’s post-COVID economic recovery plans and levelling up agenda.
“We’re building on a position of strength when it comes to research, regulation, data governance and ethics, but now is not the time for complacency. Access to robust data infrastructure, increased cross-sector adoption, scaled-up R&D initiatives and supercharging the UK’s digital skills will be vital if we are to use AI to tackle some of our greatest challenges such as climate change, and ensure the benefits of AI are felt by everyone.”
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