UK Reveals National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

The Strategy aims to boost business use of AI, attract international investment and develop the next generation of tech talent.

By Joel Davies -

The UK has launched its first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy which aims to “strengthen its position as a global science superpower” and better use the potential of modern technology to improve people’s lives and solve global challenges.

On the announcement of the strategy, the Government said it had a “long and exceptional history in AI”, citing the examples of WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing and contemporary AI company DeepMind. The UK is ranked third in the world for private venture capital investment into AI companies (2019 investment into the UK reached almost £2.5 billion) and home to a third of Europe’s total AI companies.

The UK’s first AI strategy was published on the third day of London Tech Week and contains various plans to develop the technology. It will invest in the launch of a National AI Research and Innovation Programme to improve coordination and collaboration between the country’s researchers and “transform” the UK’s AI capabilities whilst boosting business and public sector adoption of AI technologies and their ability to take them to market.

It will create a joint Office for AI (OAI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) programme aimed at continuing to develop AI in sectors based outside of London and the South East. This would focus on the commercialisation of ideas and could see the government focusing investment, researchers and developers to work in areas that currently do not use AI technology but have “great potentials such as energy and farming”.

It will further publish a joint review with UKRI into the availability and capacity of computing power for UK researchers and organisations, including the physical hardware needed to drive a rollout in AI technologies. The review will also consider wider needs for the commercialisation and deployment of AI, including its environmental impacts.

UK’s Chris Philp, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport delivered a speech at the London AI Summit this week following the announcement of the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy. Image: AI Summit London.

Other plans include the launch of a consultation on copyright and patents for AI through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to make sure the UK is capitalising on the ideas it generates and by best supporting AI development and use through the copyright and patent system. This consultation will also include a focus on how to protect AI-generated inventions which would otherwise not meet inventorship criteria as well as measures to make it easier to use copyright-protected material in AI development.

DCMS Minister Chris Philp said, “Artificial intelligence technologies generate billions for the economy and improve our lives. They power the technology we use on a daily basis and help save lives through better disease diagnosis and drug discovery.

“The UK already punches above its weight internationally and we are ranked third in the world behind the USA and China in the list of top countries for AI. Today we’re laying the foundations for the next ten years’ growth with a strategy to help us seize the potential of artificial intelligence and play a leading role in shaping the way the world governs it”.

Later this year, there will be the formation of a Defence AI Strategy, a new Defence AI Centre from the Ministry of Defence and engagement on the draft National Strategy for AI-driven technologies in Health and Social Care through the NHS AI Lab.

You can find more information about the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy from the UK Government on its website.

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