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AI Initiatives

"UK Case Study"

Government Initiatives on AI in 2019-2020

The UK is making great efforts to maintain its current position as the #3 international AI leader behind the USA and China, and to optimize its potential to climb further up the ladder of the Global AI Race. By PricewaterhouseCoopers estimation, AI technologies are set to contribute $15.7tr to the world economy by 2030, and to increase UK GDP up to 10.3% by 2030. In order to convert these potentials into practice, the UK government has formulated strategic industry development initiatives in 5 key areas - Human Capital, Lab to the Market Developments, Networking, Regulation and Infrastructure. Human capital policy targets the UK educational system to create a supply of Ai specialists that meets the nation’s demands. The UK has initiated a National Retraining Scheme to encourage lifelong learning for adults and let them enter new niches in the workforce.
The “Lab to the market development” policy area focuses on accelerating the development of AI-related technologies and the journey from prototype to market ready products and services. To hasten product development lifecycles, the UK government has committed substantial investments to research programs focused on “data science and AI” (£300 million), as well as sponsoring institutions that deal with AI-related investigations. Among of them is Alan Turing Institute and the recently established Centre for Industrial Digitisation, Robotics and Automation. Meanwhile, networking policies aim to attract highly skilled workers for simplified immigration paths. As a part of its networking development initiative, the UK has established an AI council - independent expert committee that facilitates collaboration between experts in AI technologies in academia, industry and government institutions.
In order to develop regulations for data-based technologies, including AI, the UK has also established a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. The CDEI advises government on risks and opportunities relating to the adoption of AI and data use in the UK, and has power to influence policy-making. Finally, Infrastructure focuses on supporting optimal technology environments that affect the development of new technology implementation. As part of this fifth development area, the UK has committed large investments in 5G, full-fibre networks, and transportation projects.

AI main trends in the UK: Human Capital transformation

The UK is investing heavily in the creation of new training and educational opportunities centered on AI in order to increase the number of AI specialists, technologists and technicians, to help the nation’s supply of AI expertise meet actual real-world demands.
Additionally, these efforts are also partly aimed at increasing demand for AI specialists as well, given that supply also to some extent influences demand, and a larger quantity of AI specialists available helps to create jobs where their services will be needed. A wide range of AI specialties have been created throughout UK universities, coupled with specific recommendations relating to staff training programs within businesses (and across a large number of industries).
In order to help accommodate qualifications and skill sets to match market needs, a number of fundings initiatives for educational, research degree programs and industry placement in Data science companies have been launched in the UK. These include: the AI Turing Fellowships, Funding in foster skills in STEM areas (£406 million), and Industry-funding for new AI Masters places. Meanwhile, the UK government’s National Retraining Scheme focuses on requalification programs for employees to help create a new wave of Data Science professionals, as well as increase the overall earning power of the UK populace.

AI main trends in the UK: Acceleration of AI-driven R&D

AI is one of the most significant drivers of economic growth, productivity and increases in GDP. Many high-profile reports published within the first half of 2020 predict that the implementation, development and industrialization of Ai technologies have the potential to boost the UK economy by 20-30%.
Meanwhile, the overall volume of investments into the AI Industry in the UK surpasses AI-focused investments in the rest of the European union combined, driven across the full scope of the UK investment community, including venture capital, private equity and M&A.
In tandem with these trends, the current COVID-19 pandemic has also given a significant boost to advanced AI techniques such as machine learning, which proved to be the most effective method of monitoring infectious disease generally (and COVID-19 transmission in particular), providing tangible proof of the capacity for AI to rapidly and efficiently tackle real-world issues of great national concern.

AI main trends in the UK: Intensification of Networking 

AI training and business sustainable partnerships. The large-scale implementation and industrialization of AI require specific infrastructural support mechanism, and require the long-term development of optimally-structured and sustainable economic, policy and industrial ecosystems in order to evolve in an effective manner. This includes bottom-up resources including educational systems capable of educating large numbers fo AI specialists, and specific systems that facilitate and incentivize strategic partnerships and cross-sector, cross-domain partnerships between industry and academia, product and service providers, and individual Ai companies themselves.
The essential role of development and monitoring institutions in creating and maintaining AI leadership potential. Creating specialized institutions dedicated to formulating and executing AI policy, recommendations, cross-sector and public-private sector partnerships and collaborations, dialogue between government, industry and academia, and other forms of guidance, regulatory infrastructure and systems for facilitating cooperation among different stakeholders is pivotal to both establishing and maintaining international AI leadership positions, and the UK is an excellent proof of concept for this. Providing simplified migration regulations to attract foreign talent in Data Science is a fast way to fulfill lacks and lags in domestic AI specialists in the UK.
While educational reforms and requalification programs take time to foster their actual results, Exceptional Talent visas (given up to 2000 per year) presents a very efficient solution to solve gaps between labour market supply and demand for Data Scientists and Researchers.

AI main trends in the UK: Focus on AI-policy implementation

Using AI technologies must happen in an ethical manner. Mandatory public disclosure of how new technologies might affect human lives is expected to build a high degree of public trust in the AI sector. 
AI decision making should encompass human involvement. Decision making processes that not not include public engagement and feedback can quickly lead to large losses in public confidence.
Establishing ethical standards becomes fundamental in confidence building. Implementing clear ethical standards around AI may accelerate rather than delay adoption of new technologies among public officials and service users by eroding trust.
AI-related Human Rights issues are not acceptable. AI-related privacy concerns are becoming increasingly important as the potential for technology to facilitate privacy intrusions continues to increase. The AI industry may need additional, tailored sector-specific guidance on minimum and best-practice ethical principles relating to Human Rights in relation to AI generall, and privacy protection in an increasingly technologically sophisticated world in particular.
Successful AI governance requires clear and transparent legal frameworks. Transparent, sensible and understandable regulations serve to establish proper controls for understanding, managing and mitigating risks in order to achieve better AI governance.

AI main trends in the UK: Infrastructure updates 

Enhancing and upgrading foundational instructure that supports the Uk AI industry is fundamental to establishing data-driven AI leadership positions. 5G upgrades to standard and full fibre networks as a part of digital infrastructure enhancements will give both citizens and institutions access to high-speed data-exchange systems, and will facilitate ancillary upgrades to other processes like data collection.
Investments of £176 million in 5G technology, and £200 million for full-fibre networks by the UK government, are just two examples of how supporting upgrades to the technological infrastructure supporting the nation’s AI industry is critical to maintaining a competitive international edge in the global AI race, and how the UK government understands this.
The UK has also seen the establishment of a £1.7 billion Transportation infrastructure fund to improve intra-city and city-region commuting and transportation.
In order to further improve digital infrastructure and facilitate secure data sharing without violating personal rights and privacy laws, while simultaneously simplifying availability and quality of data, the UK government has invested in its Open Data Institute and the Open Data Research Forum. Both of these initiatives are focused on cultivating collaboration and partnership networks between business, government, academia and the public. The Open Data Institute also provides courses on data science, conducts its own internal research, supports converting data science into tangible social impact.
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