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The British National AI Strategy

A Summary of the Sector Deal for AI

The United Kingdom has no clear ‘national strategy’ and in a 183-page report, “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?” it is mentioned that perhaps it should. However the closest and often referenced is the policy paper Sector Deal for AI last updated the 21st of May 2019 and released on March the 6th 2018 by the UK government. Sector Deal for AI was led by Business Secretary Greg Clark, thus its tone and focus is largely on productivity and business-oriented research.

The report starts with an outline of five foundations of productivity.

They set a few grand challenges to put UK at the forefront of industries of the future (1) AI and data revolution; (2) world leader in mobility; (3) a shift to clean growth; (4) meeting the needs of an ageing society.

Their key policy moves include:

Alongside a new technical education system, £406 million in STEM-related education, £64 million retraining scheme. In terms of infrastructure £31 billion in transport, housing and digital infrastructure (national productivity investment fund). “Boost our digital infrastructure with over £1 billion of public investment, including £176 million for 5G and £200 million for local areas to encourage roll out of full-fibre networks.” These are some of the initiatives mentioned in the report.

This Sector Deal is the first commitment from government and industry to realise this technology’s potential, outlining a package of up to £0.95 billion of support for the sector, which includes government, industry and academic contributions up to £603 million in newly allocated funding, and up to £342 million from within existing budgets, alongside £250 million for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. This support complements and leverages some of the £1.7 billion that has been announced under the cross-sectoral Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund so far, with 5 challenges having AI components that AI businesses will be able to bid into through future competitions.

The policy paper also draws on the government’s Digital Strategy, which focuses on reinforcing telecoms, data and enterprise.

Part of the strategy mentions ‘places’ in particular:

They still want to grow expertise with businesses across the country, and is ready to fund these efforts.

Government support for AI is listed as:

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

They list investments in the UK from ‘AI powerhouses’:

The United Kingdom is expanding its investment in AI talent with both VISAs (as well as other immigration rules) and more funding to research centres.

The policy paper outlines industry action to support AI.

At the bottom of the report there are additionally the headline to develop fair, equitable and secure data sharing frameworks. However this is not a notable feature of the report.

The key deal activities is as follows:

AI Sector Deal One Year On

The annual review of the sector deal called AI Sector Deal One Year On was released in April 2019.

This indicated there is an office for Artificial Intelligence.

The Office for Artificial Intelligence is a joint BEIS-DCMS unit responsible for overseeing implementation of the AI and Data Grand Challenge. Its mission is to drive responsible and innovative uptake of AI technologies for the benefit of everyone in the UK. The Office for AI does this by engaging organisations, fostering growth and delivering recommendations around data, skills and public and private sector adoption.

In February 2019, we announced an AI skills and talent package that includes:

In addition the Prime Minister announced:

The overall follow-up of the Sector Deal for AI has a positive note.

It will be interesting to follow the moves that UK will make in 2020.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 223. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. My current focus for 100 days 200–300 is national and international strategies for artificial intelligence.

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.