LONDON, UK — The United Kingdom’s government published a 10-year plan on Wednesday to make the country a global “artificial intelligence superpower,(A.I Superpower)” aiming to compete with the United States and China.
The so-called “National Artificial Intelligence Strategy” aims to increase the application of AI in British businesses, attract worldwide investment into AI firms, and train the next generation of domestic tech talent.
In a statement, Chris Philp, a minister in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, said, “Today, we’re establishing the groundwork for the next 10 years of growth with a plan that will enable us to seize the potential of artificial intelligence and play a leading role in determining how the world governs itself.”
A number of programs, studies, and projects are part of the National AI Strategy.
As part of an effort to improve coordination, a new National AI Research and Innovation initiative will establish. And collaboration among researchers across the country.
A separate program will promote AI development outside of London and Southeast England, which are now the focus of the majority of the country’s AI activities.
The government has stated that it may dedicate more resources and investment to businesses that aren’t yet fully utilizing AI, such as energy and agriculture.
According to the government, there will be an assessment of the availability and capacity of computing power for UK researchers and organizations, as well as a consultation on copyrights and patents for AI to see if the UK is capitalizing on innovations.
Reactions to the strategy
“It appears to be the sort of semi-sensible blather that this sort of strategy document always includes,” said one AI researcher from a Big Tech firm who asked to remain anonymous because they did not authorize to speak to the media.
They went on to say, “The devil is in the details.” “Will the government make it easy for top Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers, and junior faculty members to join our universities? They aren’t right now. Will there be a stronger drive to fund public universities more competitively in order to maintain or recruit top-tier teachers at all levels of seniority? For a few years, will there be a more lenient tax structure for low-income earners, such as those working in spinouts and start-ups? With the increase in AI, it’s only gotten more expensive.
According to the AI researcher, the government appears to have done more in recent years to damage what makes the United Kingdom an appealing location for research and entrepreneurship than to promote it.
Nathan Benaich, a venture capitalist with Air Street Capital, said, “I’m optimistic that the plan could unlock the United Kingdom’s AI potential.” “For the country to truly excel, it should concentrate on applied scientific research sectors such as biosciences, energy, and cyber security, where it already has world-leading capabilities.”
Beth Singler, an anthropology professor at the University of Cambridge who studies AI and robotics, predicted a post-Brexit world. That the United Kingdom is increasingly looking for niche sectors where it can compete against much larger powers.
“With AI, our expertise with tech regulatory and ethical concerns may be seen as a significant USP for our AI agenda,” Singler added. “However, is competition with the United States or China the ideal structure or narrative for AI progress? I’m looking forward to seeing what ethical structures emerge from this 10-year aim. However, we must be wary about buying into our own narratives of UK-exceptionalism, as we have already produced some of the most important persons in AI history.”
The National AI Strategy, according to Seb Krier, a senior policy researcher at the Stanford Cyber Research Center, has some “very promising” aspects, while DeepMind COO Lila Ibrahim said It’s encouraging to see a clear focus on effective technology governance, especially given the importance of gaining public and corporate confidence in AI.
China and the United States
According to data from the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United States filed more AI patent applications than any other country between 1998 and 2017, with over 50,000 applications filed. China came in second with roughly 41,000 within the same time period, while the United Kingdom filed less than 2,000.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicted in March that China would soon overtake the United States as the world’s premier AI superpower, noting serious strategic implications.
Schmidt argued, among a panel of specialists in a National Security Commission on AI, that “America does not prepare to defend or compete in the AI era”. “We have to face this harsh reality.”
Takeovers of small businesses
The UK government established the National AI Strategy after allowing digital behemoths from the US and Asia to acquire some of the country’s most promising AI businesses.
In 2014, Google paid $600 million for DeepMind, a London-based research organization widely considered as one of the world’s top AI laboratories. Twitter purchased Magic Pony Technologies, Apple purchased VocalIQ, and Amazon purchased Evi Technologies. Meanwhile, Japan’s SoftBank acquired Arm, a firm whose semiconductor designs utilize in many of today’s AI applications.
In 2019, £2.5 billion ($3.5 billion) was invested in AI start-ups in the United Kingdom but many of them are now in danger of being purchased by larger international competitors.
According to a report published on Sunday by the Financial Times based on data from Refinitiv, Big Tech is acquiring smaller competitors at an all-time high. Since the beginning of the year, Big Tech has spent $264 billion buying potential competitors worth less than $1 billion since the beginning of the year.