AI could add £630bn to UK economy, suggests new review

BY Fraser Tennant

An increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) could bring major social and economic benefits to the UK and add £630bn to the UK economy, according to a review published this week.

In ‘Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK’ – an industry-led independent review carried out on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – the case is made for the UK to “become the best place in the world for businesses developing and deploying AI to start, grow and thrive, and realise all the benefits the technology offers”.

Among the key factors which have combined to increase the capability of AI in recent years include: (i) new and larger volumes of data; (ii) a supply of experts with specific high level skills; (iii) the availability of increasingly powerful computing capacity; and (iv) a continuing fall in the barriers to achieving performance.

“The UK possesses an enviable reputation for excellence in AI with cutting-edge innovation, world-class universities, a thriving start-up scene and significant investment growth,” said Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment at PwC. “But in order for the UK to realise the potential gains from AI and keep up in an increasingly competitive landscape, we need to ensure that AI systems are adopted in a responsible way so that every part of society can reap the benefits. We also need to create the right environment for existing and new businesses to innovate and make the most of the product, productivity and wage benefits that this technology can bring.”

The review makes a number of recommendations (18 in all), including: developing data trusts to improve trust and ease around sharing data; making more research data machine readable; supporting text and data mining as a standard and essential tool for research; increasing computing capacity for AI research; recruiting skilled experts to develop AI; and establishing an AI Council to promote growth and coordination in the sector.

Overall, the review recommends that government, industry and academia needs to work together to keep the UK among the world leaders in AI.

Mr Andrews concluded: “It is great to see the review address practical actions the government can adopt in order to support companies in confidently implementing AI, providing secure and safe access to data, developing the research sector, and significantly bolstering the number of people being trained to work in the field.”

Report: Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK

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