Expert appointments boost government's AI Council

Digital secretary announces 21 new voices to guide ethical AI development and adoption among businesses

Board members round a table

The government has appointed a host of industry and academic experts to its artificial intelligence (AI) council including Alan Turing Institute chief executive Professor Adrian Smith and Ocado CTO Paul Clarke.

The independent body was created as part of the government's billion-pound AI Sector Deal last year and aims to promote adoption as well as ethical usage of the tech across UK businesses and organisations.

The full line-up, announced at the Vivatech Summit in Paris, comprises 22 individuals spanning a breadth of backgrounds and expertise, from NHS Digital Academy CEO Rachel Dunscombe to the Deepmind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman.

"Britain is already a leading authority in AI," said digital secretary Jeremy Wright. "We are home to some of the world's finest academic institutions, landing record levels of investment to the sector and attracting the best global tech talent, but we must not be complacent.

"Through our AI Council we will continue this momentum by leveraging the knowledge of experts from a range of sectors to provide leadership on the best use and adoption of artificial intelligence across the economy."

The AI Sector Deal also saw the formation of the Centre of Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) and the Office for AI. The latter is a joint unit between the Departments for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This organisation will work with the government and the civil service to deliver on the work and advice of the AI Council.

As previously announced in June, the AI Council will be chaired by CognitionX co-founder Tabitha Goldstaub, who also runs one of the largest gatherings of AI experts in the world, dubbed CogX. She will have oversight of the council and advise the government on how to work with businesses to boost AI usage.

Besides its chair, the AI Council's full complement includes:

  • Wendy Hall - Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton
  • Professor Adrian Smith - Institute Director and Chief Executive, Alan Turing Institute
  • Alice Bentinck - Cofounder, Entrepreneur First
  • Alice Webb - Director for Children's and Education at the BBC
  • Ann Cairns - Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard
  • Professor Chris Bishop - Microsoft Technical Fellow and Director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Cambridge, UK
  • Dr Claire Craig - Chief Science Policy Officer, Royal Society
  • Professor David Lane - Professor & Founding Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics
  • Kriti Sharma - AI for good founder
  • Marc Warner - CEO, Faculty
  • Professor Maire O'Neill - Professor at Queen's University Belfast
  • Sir Mark Walport - Chief Executive, UKRI
  • Martin Tisne - Managing Director, Luminate
  • Mustafa Suleyman - Co-Founder, Deepmind
  • Professor Neil Lawrence - Professor at the University of Sheffield and Director, Machine Learning at Amazon
  • Professor Nick Jennings - Vice-Provost Research and Enterprise, Imperial College
  • Dame Patricia Hodgson - Member of the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information and Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
  • Paul Clarke - Chief Technology Officer, Ocado
  • Professor Pete Burnap - Professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity at Cardiff University
  • Priya Lakhani - Founder of edtech AI platform CENTURY Tech
  • Rachel Dunscombe - CEO, NHS Digital Academy

"I'm thrilled the AI Council membership has been announced, convening a brilliant mix of experts who have agreed to offer their time, experience and insight to support the growth and responsible adoption of AI in the UK," Goldstaub said.

"If we are to grasp the full benefits of AI technologies it is vital all of the AI community comes together and works with the AI Council to create an open dialogue between industry, academia and the public sector, so we can see social and economic benefits for all of society."

The government says the AI Council aims to encourage a much wider representation of experts to focus on specific topics surrounding the broader AI theme. These will include data and ethics, as well as skills and diversity.

Beyond the formation of new advisory organisations, the AI Sector Deal has so far seen 16 new centres for doctoral training formed in UK universities, and new AI fellowships led by the Alan Turing Institute. Additionally, five centres of excellence for digital pathology and imaging have been established, including radiology and AI advances in medicine.

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