Bringing together academics and industry experts, a new review into AI has found that it has the potential to bring major social and economic benefits to the UK.
Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK, chaired by Professor Dame Wendy Hall from the University of Southampton and Jérôme Pesenti from BenevolentTech, gives recommendations on how the UK can make the most of this technology.
“The impacts on society and the economy will be profound, although the exact nature of those impacts is uncertain,” reads the report.
The document estimates that AI could add an additional £630 billion to the UK economy by 2035, and recommends that the Government sets up a secure system of sharing data, creates an industry-funded masters programme and that diversity is increased in the workforce.
Hall, a professor of computer science, said that AI is “going to affect everything and everybody”.
“Rather like computing has affected everybody. If you think about how computing has affected the workforce over the last twenty years, it’s very hard to think of a job that hasn’t been affected by computing.”
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a technology that enables computers to do things that humans do, for example, the ability to think, learn and react like we do. This doesn’t necessarily refer to robots, but AI can also be used within IT systems.
Where will artificial intelligence be used?
Hall says AI will be pervasive throughout the workforce, but highlighted two sectors in particular - transport and healthcare.
With the coming of the automated car that uses AI, Hall says: “You could argue in the next generation most people will not need to learn to drive.”
However, she adds, “There are huge legal, ethical, moral issues as well as logistical issues about how do you move a system from manual driving to automated driving”.
In healthcare, AI could be used to analyse X-rays and MRI scans much quicker than humans can, she said.
How is artificial intelligence being used now?
AI is being used across many sectors already. For example in May this year, Durham Police were set to begin using a new AI tool to help officers decide whether a suspect should be kept in custody.
The Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart) has been trained with data from five years of offending histories, and uses the information to classify suspects as low, medium or high risk of offending if released.
In the automotive industry, Toyota invested one billion dollars (£657 million) in a Silicon Valley research company in 2015 to develop AI and robotics.
DeepMind and Artificial intelligence
One company making headlines in AI is the British company, DeepMind, that was bought by Google in 2014 for £360 million. Its most famous research was when it created an AI programme that beat the world’s best player at Go, a complex logic-based board game.
It also taught itself to walk, as shown in the video below.
Will the UK be a leader in artificial intelligence?
“We believe that this is the right time for the UK to accelerate on AI”, the report says. In order to maintain its world leading position the UK needs to act in key areas it continues. The 18 recommendations include developing skilled experts with more PhD places, creating an AI Council and the creation of Data Trusts to facilitate data sharing.
“It will affect every part of our lives in different ways”, Hall said.