The UK government is investing £300m in artificial intelligence research, in a bid to accelerate the sector’s growth and position the UK as a leader in the field.
The funding, a part of the UK’s latest industrial strategy, is in addition to £300m already earmarked for finding innovative solutions to an ageing society, the bulk of which will be invested in data science.
The deal includes funding for the training of 8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funded AI PhDs by 2025 and a Turing Fellowship programme to attract and retain talent.
The government will spend £9m on the previously announced Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, which will advise industry and government on deploying data-driven technology in a way that protects consumers.
The deal includes a total package of spending amounting to £1bn, with Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain opening its first European headquarters in the UK and pledging to invest £35m in UK “deep tech” startups.
Cambridge University, meanwhile, has agreed to open a £10m super computer available to businesses. Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the chipmaker Arm recently announced a similar plan to launch super computers at three universities.
It comes just weeks after the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, announced that the French government would invest more than $1.5bn (£1.3bn) into AI research over the next four years.
A 181-page House of Lords report on AI published earlier this month concluded that while the government’s strategy is moving in the right direction, more needs to be done. Tim Clement-Jones, the chair of the committee behind the report, told attendees at AI Expo in London last week that the UK still needs a “proper national framework”.
Commenting on the move, AI-pioneer Alex Depledge MBE, who recently sold Hassle.com for a reported £27m and co-founder of Resi.co.uk, said: “The government announcing £300 million for developing Artificial Intelligence within the UK is an exciting prospect.
“Advances in cutting-edge technology, such as genuine Artificial Intelligence, not only has the potential to create new and exciting products, it will also fundamentally change the process of how we do things. Shaking up the foundations of delivery models is where technology is its most potent and vital. However, AI’s power can be likened to that of nuclear weapons if used at its most negative. We need proper regulations, created independently of political or business influence, to protect our security, data and freedom”.