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UK publishes ten-year plan to become an 'AI superpower'

The CBI welcomes "crucial step" that will keep the UK at the forefront of the emerging technology

A digital brain made up of numbers

The UK government has outlined a ten-year strategy to make the country a global superpower in artificial intelligence.

With the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, ministers want to ensure that the UK invests in the long term growth of AI; that it benefits all sectors and regions of the economy; and that it is governed effectively by adequate rules which encourage innovation, investment and protect the public and the country’s fundamental values. 

The strategy, laid out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the third day of London Tech Week, includes plans to build a National AI Research and Innovation Programme in order to improve coordination and collaboration between the country’s researchers and to boost and public sector adoption of AI technologies.

There are also plans to launch a joint Office for AI (OAI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) programme aimed at continuing to develop AI in sectors based outside of London and the South East, and to trial an AI Standards Hub to coordinate UK engagement in setting the rules globally.

The UK government is also set to publish a joint review with UKRI into the availability and capacity of computing power that is available to UK researchers; This will consider wider needs for the commercialisation and deployment of AI, which will also include its environmental impact. 

"Artificial intelligence technologies generate billions for the economy and improve our lives," DCMS minister Chris Philp said. "They power the technology we use on a daily basis and help save lives through better disease diagnosis and drug discovery. 

"The UK already punches above its weight internationally and we are ranked third in the world behind the USA and China in the list of top countries for AI. Today we're laying the foundations for the next ten years' growth with a strategy to help us seize the potential of artificial intelligence and play a leading role in shaping the way the world governs it." 

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The strategy was welcomed by the head of digital policy at the CBI, Susannah Odell, who said it was a "crucial step" in keeping the UK at the forefront of the emerging technology that would also drive business investment across the economy.

"From trade to climate, AI brings unprecedented opportunities for increased growth and productivity," Odell said. "It's also positive to see the government joining up the innovation landscape to make it more than the sum of its parts. The upcoming Spending Review is a perfect chance to match rhetoric with action and deliver on the £22 billion R&D commitment."

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