The United Kingdom (UK) government on September 22 launched the country’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy to build on the UK’s strengths in the area and maximize new AI opportunities.
In the publication, the UK government touches on the country’s successes in AI to date, including the 1 billion British pound ($1.37 billion) 2018 AI Sector Deal, while promoting this new National AI Strategy as the start of a step-change for AI in the UK, recognizing the power of AI to increase resilience, productivity, growth, and innovation across the private and public sectors.
A 10-Year Plan
The National AI Strategy will drive AI innovation for the next 10 years, building on three key assumptions about the coming decade:
- The key drivers of progress, discovery, and strategic advantage in AI are access to people, data, compute, and finance—all of which face major global competition.
- AI will become mainstream in much of the economy, and action will be required to ensure every sector and region of the UK benefits from this transition.
- The UK’s governance and regulatory regimes will need to keep pace with the fast-changing demands of AI—maximizing growth and competition, driving UK excellence in innovation, and protecting the safety, security, choices, and rights of citizens.
Three Foundational Pillars
The UK’s National AI Strategy is built upon three fundamental pillars:
- Pillar 1: Investing in the long-term needs of the AI ecosystem: The government must invest and plan for the long-term needs of the AI ecosystem to see more people working with AI, more access to data and compute resources to train and deliver AI systems, and more access to finance and customers to grow sectors, as well as to continue the UK’s leadership as a science and AI superpower.
- Pillar 2: Ensuring AI benefits all sectors and regions: The government must support the transition to an AI-enabled economy—capturing the benefits of innovation in the UK; backing the domestic design and development of the next generation of AI systems; and supporting British businesses to adopt them, grow, and become more productive, with a view to ensuring that AI benefits all regions, nations, businesses, and sectors.
- Pillar 3: Governing AI effectively: The government must ensure the UK gets national governance of AI technologies right to encourage innovation and investment, and to protect the public and their fundamental values, while working with global partners to promote the responsible development of AI internationally.
For each of the above pillars, the National AI Strategy sets out a number of actions that the UK government intends to undertake over the next 10 years. Some examples of these include launching a draft National Strategy for AI in Health and Social Care in line with the National AI Strategy, and continuing to engage to help shape international frameworks, norms, and standards for governing AI to reflect human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law on the world stage.
The National AI Strategy fails to provide a detailed regulatory framework for implementation in the UK. It is anticipated that this will follow in a pro-innovation white paper to be published in 2022.
From a regulatory perspective, AI presents challenges relating to liability, assurance, creative control and ownership, and transparency and bias, amongst others. It will be of particular interest to see how the UK government deals with these in the forthcoming white paper.