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Independent report calls for commitment to AI and data literacy for all

AI
7th January 2021 about a 5 minute read
"The UK has a crucial opportunity to become a global lead in good governance, standards and frameworks for AI" UK AI Council

A new report has set out a vision for cementing the UK’s position as “one of the very best places in the world to live with, work with and develop AI.”

The AI Council has published an AI Roadmap which states that diversity and inclusion must be at the heart of a successful AI policy.

It also calls for a commitment to building public trust and “AI and data literacy for everyone”.

This could be achieved through an Online Academy for understanding AI, with trusted materials and initiatives supporting teachers, school students and lifelong learning.

The independent report sets out long-term ambitions for all government departments.

It includes 16 recommendations to help the Government develop a National AI Strategy. This includes sustainable public sector investment in AI, commitment to a 10 year programme of AI skill-building and the acceleration of the necessary infrastructure.

AI to drive growth

Estimates show that AI could deliver a 10% increase in UK GDP in 2030.

The report has two underlying messages: the first is that we need to “double down” on recent investment the UK has made in AI.

And the second message is that the country must “look to the horizon and be adaptable to disruption”.

Welcoming the report, Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport Minister Caroline Dinenage said it highlighted the importance of continued investment in the sector.

“We’re proud to be home to some of the world’s top AI companies and committed to supporting the sector to thrive.”

The AI Roadmap sets out a total of 16 recommendations to help the government develop a National AI Strategy:

Research, Development and Innovation

  1. 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 (UK Research and Innovation) AI review.
  2. 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.
  3. Ensure that ‘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

  1. 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.
  2. Make diversity and inclusion a priority. The report suggests ‘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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Support the UK’s AI startup vendor community. Enable greater access to data, infrastructure, skills, compute, specialist knowledge and funds.
  3. 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.
  4. Use AI to meet the challenges of Net Zero carbon emissions. Work on access to data, governance, to develop cleaner systems, products and services.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

An executive summary of the AI Roadmap is available here