The UK today launches its first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy to "help it strengthen its position as a global science superpower and seize the potential of modern technology to improve people’s lives and solve global challenges such as climate change and public health."
The Strategy sets out a 10-year vision for the UK and AI. The Strategy is focused on how the UK can differentiate itself from other countries and regulatory regimes around the world, whilst also recognising the risks and rewards of AI:
the UK has an opportunity over the next ten years to position itself as the best place to live and work with AI; with clear rules, applied ethical principles and a pro-innovation regulatory environment. With the right ingredients in place, we will be both a genuine innovation powerhouse and the most supportive business environment in the world, where we cooperate on using AI for good, advocate for international standards that reflect our values, and defend against the malign use of AI.
This is especially relevant at a time when the EU's proposed regulations for artificial intelligence are in the pipeline, which themselves are drafted with an eye on trying to lead international standards for AI.
The Strategy has three pillars:
- Invest and plan for the long-term needs of the AI ecosystem to continue the UK's leadership as a science and AI superpower;
- Support the transition to an AI-enabled economy, capturing the benefits of innovation in the UK, and ensuring AI benefits all sectors and regions; and
- Ensure the UK gets the national and international governance of AI technologies right to encourage innovation, investment, and protect the public and our fundamental values.
The Strategy doesn't stand alone. It is designed to support other government work, including:-
- the UK's national data strategy (which itself picks up on the importance of ensuring effective governance);
- the Plan for Digital Regulation, which sets an approach to regulating digital technologies; and
- the upcoming National Cyber Strategy, Digital Strategy, and National Resilience Strategy.
And as part of supporting other government work, the Strategy sets out its short, medium, and long term actions under each of the three pillars:
|Investing in the long-term needs of the AI ecosystem||Ensuring AI benefits all sectors and regions||Governing AI effectively|
|Short term (next 3 months):||• Publish a framework for government’s role in enabling better data availability in the wider economy|
• Consult on the role and options for a National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure Framework• Support the development of AI, data science and digital skills through the Department for Education’s Skills Bootcamps
|• Begin engagement on the Draft National Strategy for AI-driven technologies in Health and Social Care, through the NHS AI Lab|
• Publish the Defence AI Strategy, through the Ministry of Defence• Launch a consultation on copyright and patents for AI through the IPO
|• Publish the CDEI assurance roadmap|
• Determine the role of data protection in wider AI governance following the Data: A new direction consultation
• Publish details of the approaches the Ministry of Defence will use when adopting and using AI• Develop an all-of-government approach to international AI activity
|Medium term (next 6-12 months):||• Publish research into what skills are needed to enable employees to use AI in a business setting and identify how national skills provision can meet those needs|
• Evaluate the private funding needs and challenges of AI scaleups
• Support the National Centre for Computing Education to ensure AI programmes for schools are accessible
• Support a broader range of people to enter AI-related jobs by ensuring career pathways highlight opportunities to work with or develop AI
• Implement the US UK Declaration on Cooperation in AI R&D
• Publish a review into the UK’s compute capacity needs to support AI innovation, commercialisation and deployment• Roll out new visa regimes to attract the world’s best AI talent to the UK
|• Publish research into opportunities to encourage diffusion of AI across the economy|
• Consider how Innovation Missions include AI capabilities, such as in energy
• Extend UK aid to support local innovation in developing countries• Build an open repository of AI challenges with real-world applications
|• Publish White Paper on a pro-innovation national position on governing and regulating AI|
• Complete an in-depth analysis on algorithmic transparency, with a view to develop a cross-government standard
• Pilot an AI Standards Hub to coordinate UK engagement in AI standardisation globally• Establish medium and long term horizon scanning functions to increase government’s awareness of AI safety
|Long term (next 12 months and beyond):||• Undertake a review of our international and domestic approach to semiconductor supply chains|
• Consider what open and machine-readable government datasets can be published for AI models
• Launch a new National AI Research and Innovation Programme that will align funding programmes across UKRI and support the wider ecosystem
• Back diversity in AI by continuing existing interventions across top talent, PhDs, AI and Data Science Conversion Courses and Industrial Funded Masters
• Monitor and use National Security and Investment Act to protect national security while keeping the UK open for business• Include trade deal provisions in emerging technologies, including AI
|• Launch joint Office for AI / UKRI programme to stimulate the development and adoption of AI technologies in high potential, lower-AI-maturity sectors|
• Continue supporting the development of capabilities around trustworthiness, adoptability and transparency of AI technologies through the National AI Research and Innovation Programme• Join up across government to identify where using AI can provide a catalytic contribution to strategic challenges
|• Explore with stakeholders the development of an AI technical standards engagement toolkit to support the AI ecosystem to engage in the global AI standardisation landscape|
• Work with global partners on shared R&D challenges, leveraging Overseas Development Assistance to put AI at the heart of partnerships worldwide
• Work with The Alan Turing Institute to update guidance on AI ethics and safety in the public sector• Work with national security, defence, and leading researchers to understand what public sector actions can safely advance AI and mitigate catastrophic risks
There's a lot to unpack in the Strategy, so we'll write further articles separately looking at particular parts of the Strategy.
Our ten-year plan to make Britain a global AI superpower