Thought leadership

The UK Government has supported an independent review into the future for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the benefits it can bring.

This independent review, carried out by Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti reports on how the AI industry can be grown in the UK.

The review says use of AI  can bring major social and economic benefits to the UK. With AI, computers can analyse and learn from information at higher accuracy and speed than humans can.

AI offers massive gains in efficiency and performance to most or all industry sectors, from drug discovery to logistics. AI is software that can be integrated into existing processes, improving them, scaling them, and reducing their costs, by making or suggesting more accurate decisions through better use of information.

It has been estimated that AI could add an additional USD $814 billion (£630bn) to the UK economy by 2035, increasing the annual growth rate of GVA from 2.5 to 3.9%.

Our vision is for the UK to become the best place in the world for businesses developing and deploying AI to start, grow and thrive, to realise all the benefits the technology offers.

The pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing is widely regarded as launching and inspiring much of the development of AI. While other countries and international companies are investing heavily in AI development, the UK is still regarded as a centre of expertise, for the present at least. This report recommends that more is done to build on Turing’s legacy to ensure the UK remains among the leaders in AI.

Key factors have combined to increase the capability of AI in recent years, in particular:

  • New and larger volumes of data
  • Supply of experts with the specific high level skills
  • Availability of increasingly powerful computing capacity. The barriers to achieving performance have fallen significantly, and continue to fall.

To continue developing and applying AI, the UK will need to increase ease of access to data in a wider range of sectors. This Review recommends:

  • Development of 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.

Skilled experts are needed to develop AI, and they are in short supply. To develop more AI, the UK will need a larger workforce with deep AI expertise, and more development of lower level skills to work with AI. This Review recommends:

  • An industry-funded Masters programme in AI
  • Market research to develop conversion courses in AI that meet employers’ needs
  • 200 more PhD places in AI at leading UK universities, attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds and from around the world.
  • Credit-bearing AI online courses and continuing professional development leading to MScs
  • Greater diversity in the AI workforce
  • An international AI Fellowship Programme for the UK.

The UK has an exceptional record in key AI research. Growing the UK’s AI capability into the future will involve building on this with more research on AI in different application areas, and coordinating research capabilities.

This Review recommends:

  • The Alan Turing Institute should become the national institute for artificial intelligence and data science
  • Universities should promote standardisation in transfer of IP
  • Computing capacity for AI research should be coordinated and negotiated.

Increasing uptake of AI means increasing demand as well as supply through a better understanding of what AI can do and where it could be applied. This review recommends:

  • An AI Council to promote growth and coordination in the sector
  • Guidance on how to explain decisions and processes enabled by AI
  • Support for export and inward investment
  • Guidance on successfully applying AI to drive improvements in industry
  • A programme to support public sector use of AI
  • Funded challenges around data held by public organisations.

Our work has indicated that action in these areas could deliver a step-change improvement in growth of UK AI. This report makes the 18 recommendations listed in full below, which describe how Government, industry and academia should work together to keep the UK among the world leaders in AI.

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