Home Government How the UK Could Become a Global AI Hub

How the UK Could Become a Global AI Hub

Governments around the world are deliberating their AI strategies. Some are considering making AI a central element of their economic and geopolitical agendas.

While the US and China focus on isolated growth and world dominance, the UK may decide to do something completely different.

So far, the UK’s AI strategy is one of the most progressive, pragmatic and balanced strategies put forward by any nation.

The UK Government is taking proactive steps to actively shape the development and utilization of AI.

The UK is in a position to create an optimized international AI ecosystem and develop a global AI hub in collaboration with Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Currently, the local UK AI ecosystem consists of 1000 artificial intelligence companies, 600 AI investors, 80 AI influencers, 20 AI conferences, 12 AI think tanks, and 11 AI research institutes, and the UK has AI implementations in the areas of e-governance, blockchain, healthcare, preventive medicine, security, robotics, computer vision, LegalTech, FinTech, and InsurTech.

“The UK has very strong potential to become a global leader in AI, provided that sufficient commitments from the UK government are made in order to prioritise it as a matter of national  strategic importance from investment in the industry to trust in data and algorithms.”

Lord Clement-Jones CBE, Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI and Chair, House of Lords Select Committee on AI

In 2017 the All Party Parliamentary Group on AI was established to study the impact and implications of AI, and to determine how the private sector and government could create the conditions necessary for the AI industry to continue to thrive and grow in the UK.

The APPG-AI established a set of principles that they hope will help define international norms for the design, development, regulation and deployment of AI.

The UK government has committed about £1 billion to AI with the objective of becoming the leader in the development of AI ethics, governance and safety frameworks on a global scale.

The UK government has chosen AI as Grand Challenge #1 and addressing the needs of the ageing population as Grand Challenge #2. The UK is the only country in the world to make dealing with an ageing population a national priority.

AI could be used to modernize the UK healthcare system and more significantly, could become the main driver in providing solutions for providing healthcare to the ageing population. This includes applications of AI for preventive medicine and AgeTech.

In October 2018, Deep Knowledge Analytics and Big Innovation Centre presented a report entitled Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK 2018 to the House of Lords.

This 2200 page report is the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted in this area. The report, which features input from the All Party Parliamentary Group on AI, provides a clear and deep look at the current state of the AI in the UK.

The report illustrates how the UK could set the gold standard for Good Trusted AI by initiating international protocols.

The report elucidates how the UK could spearhead the development of AI ethics, governance, and safety frameworks on a global scale and suggests that through focus and specialization, the UK could become a global leader in specific sectors such as FinTech and Healthcare.

Although the UK has made progress in AI, there are issues to be addressed in the next few years. Some AI sectors are much more developed than others.

For example, the UK has overcrowded marketing and advertising sectors, whereas critically important edtech and govtech sectors are underdeveloped. Another issue is brain drain.

Many of the best students from Oxford and Cambridge are moving to the US to work in the tech industry.

The US is also experiencing brain drain as many of the best engineers leave the US for lucrative work in China. A number of AI companies are also relocating from Silicon Valley to Hong Kong.

Currently, AI hubs in European cities such as Berlin and Paris are serving as intermediate points, where foreign startups can afford to launch and build MVPs.

These startups can then relocate to AI hubs in cities like London or San Francisco when they are ready to advance to the next stage.

The US and China will be the dominant powers on the global AI chessboard, and other countries will seek an independent trusted third party to rely on for an AI framework. This will be the UK.

The UK is setting the gold standard for Good Trusted AI by initiating international protocols to enable economic growth and social progress. The UK is in a strong position to create an optimized international AI ecosystem and become a global AI hub.

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Margaretta Colangelo
Margaretta Colangelo, Partner at Deep Knowledge Ventures, is based in San Francisco. Deep Knowledge Ventures is a DeepTech venture fund focused on AI, Blockchain and specifically on precision preventive medicine and Longevity. Our subsidiary Deep Knowledge Analytics regularly conducts special case studies in DeepTech.
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