Artificial Intelligence - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:34 pm on 26th April 2018.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 1:34 pm, 26th April 2018

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat a Statement made earlier today in the other place by my honourable friend the Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries. The Statement is as follows:

“The Government today publish our sector deal for artificial intelligence, a major collaboration with industry to secure the UK’s global leadership in artificial intelligence and data. From how we travel to how we live and work, AI holds transformative implications for every aspect of our lives and for every sector of the economy.

For the UK, the economic prize is clear, potentially adding 10% to our GDP by 2030 if adoption is widespread, with a productivity boost of up to 30%. In pursuing that prize, we start with strong foundations. The UK was recently ranked first among OECD countries in Oxford Insights’ AI government readiness index, and is home already to globally recognised AI companies including DeepMind, SwiftKey and Babylon Health. This success is supported by the UK’s strong combination of world-leading universities that drive skills and R&D; a thriving venture capital market for AI that leads among economies of comparable scale; and trusted universal public institutions such as our NHS that can pioneer data-driven innovation and connect the power of AI to the public good.

The sector deal that we have published today on GOV.UK therefore outlines how we are building on those foundations and on the independent review led by Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti, reflecting that review’s spirit of partnership and consultation between government, industry and academia. In skills, we have made it the UK’s ambition to be home to the world’s best and brightest minds in artificial intelligence. We will support the Alan Turing Institute’s plans for expansion to become the national academic institute for AI and data science. We will create 200 additional PhDs in AI and related disciplines per annum by 2020-21, rising to at least 1,000 government-backed PhD places at any one time by 2025. We have set a target of 200 places for an industry-funded AI Masters programme, and will introduce an internationally competitive Turing Fellowship Programme in AI. We are also doubling the tier 1 exceptional talent visas to 2,000 a year to attract the brightest minds to the UK.

In infrastructure, we will ensure that the ambition of our AI sector is matched by the means of delivery in communications, in data and in supercomputer capacity. In telecommunications, we are investing over £1 billion to create a country with world-class digital capabilities, from 5G mobile networks to full-fibre broadband. In supercomputer capacity, we are delighted to announce as part of the sector deal that the University of Cambridge will make the UK’s fastest academic supercomputer, capable of solving the largest scientific and industrial challenges at breakneck speed, available to AI technology companies. That complements the Government’s support for start-ups’ access to hardware via the Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage, and builds on Cambridge’s existing track record as a hub for AI and technology.

We are investing in data, too, because data is infrastructure. Just as roads help us to reach a destination, data helps us to reach a decision. For AI systems, data is the experience that they learn from to be able to process information and interact usefully with the world and the people who live there. This Government have always valued the economic benefits of pioneers having access to high-quality public datasets, but some of the most useful datasets for AI are those that organisations are reluctant to share with others—for instance, because they have commercial value. The world’s first centre for data ethics and innovation will therefore work to unlock the usefulness of that data while protecting its value for those organisations and, most importantly, keeping people’s data secure.

We want AI-led growth to be both empowering and inclusive, and that applies to our approach to data. But it also informs our commitment that the benefits of AI should be felt across the whole country. The sector deal makes a commitment to establish clusters and regional tech hubs, designed to power AI growth, across the entire UK. We will invest £21 million in Tech City UK over four years so that it can expand into Tech Nation, thus transforming the UK from a series of stand-alone tech hubs into a powerful network that can place the nation firmly at the top of global tech rankings.

The message is made clear by the investment that industry has brought. In total, its investment with government forms an investment package of nearly £1 billion. That support sits alongside the £250 million already allocated for connected and autonomous vehicles and the £1.7 billion that has been announced under the cross-sectoral industrial strategy challenge fund so far. But please be clear: our ambition in AI will not stop at this sector deal. This is only the start of UK plans to seize the opportunities of modern technology and ensure that it follows the highest ethical standards. By doing so, we will ensure we continue to build a Britain that is fit for the future”.