Liam Halligan: Can Britain become an Artificial Intelligence superpower?

Liam Halligan: Can Britain become an Artificial Intelligence superpower?
22 liam mono
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 22/09/2021

- 13:33

Updated: 22/09/2021

- 15:17

'Boris Johnson says the UK’s tech revolution is creating jobs, driving growth and boosting investment'

It is London tech week and, across the capital, meetings and conferences are taking place discussing the vital role of technology on society.

Plus, the government has – this very morning – announced a new 10-year plan to “Make Britain an Artificial Intelligence Superpower”.

Is this realistic? Are ministers guilty of mindless hyperbole? And what is Artificial Intelligence anyway?

Well Artificial Intelligence – or AI – underpins the tech and apps we use on a daily basis – from helping us navigate around cities to enabling voice recognition smart speakers. AI helps clinicians improve their diagnoses and makes driverless cars possible – it’s the world’s fastest growing technology.

Britain is pretty good at this stuff – from war-time code-breaking genius Alan Turing to pioneering research by today’s London-based AI powerhouse Deep Mind. The UK is third in the world when it comes to attracting private venture capital investment into AI. We’re home to a third of Europe’s AI companies.

So says the government. This new AI strategy includes a framework of ethics and principles as we deploy and develop advanced machine learning. Training and finance are promised to help AI start-ups. Today’s document also encourages businesses to adopt AI to improve productivity – as we compete with global tech rivals from the US, China and beyond.

But is there a danger here? Will more and more AI mean fewer and fewer workers are needed? Ever more technology is good for ultra-rich tech entrepreneurs, but what about ordinary people trying to make ends meet?

Boris Johnson says the UK’s “tech revolution is creating jobs, driving growth and boosting investment across the country”. But supermarket check-out operators are being replaced by machines. Drivers and skilled technicians are making way for computers.

We all want progress and investment. We all want Britain to prosper. But, as ministers launch a new Artificial Intelligence strategy, On the Money is today posing THIS question:

“Will a robot take my job?”

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