Artificial intelligence could add 630 billion pounds to UK economy by 2035

Boost seen from personalised services, health care improvements

FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, file photo, a new security robot, nicknamed ROD2, drives toward Daniel Webb as it patrols the sidewalks and parking garage at River Oaks District in Houston. The robot recently became the latest addition to a patrol team eager to experiment with fast-evolving technology. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, three-quarters of Americans say it is at least �������somewhat realistic������� that robots and computers will eventually perform most of the jobs currently done by people. Roughly the same proportion worry that such an outcome will have negative consequences, such as worsening inequality. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)
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Artificial intelligence could add 630 billion pounds (Dh3.07 trillion) to the UK economy by 2035, a government-commissioned report said.

The economic boost would come from a combination of more personalised services, improvements in health care and adopting machine learning to find ways to use resources more efficiently, according to the report.

But to see that gain, the U.K. needs to do more to encourage businesses to deploy machine learning and artificial intelligence and ensure the UK maintains a leadership position in AI research and development.

"We have a choice," the report’s authors, Wendy Hall, a professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, and Jerome Pesenti, chief executive of healthcare research start-up BenevolentAI, wrote. "The UK could stay among the world leaders in AI in the future, or allow other countries to dominate."

The review is part of a series of recommendations the prime minister Theresa May’s government has solicited from business and academic leaders on how to shape British industrial strategy. The policy of using government power to promote certain key industries and technologies, which Mrs May announced in January, represents a marked shift from the more laissez-faire policies of both Conservative and Labour governments in recent decades.


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Besides artificial intelligence, Mrs May’s government has also talked about promoting robotics, 5G wireless internet, and so-called "smart energy" technologies.

The report called for industry to sponsor 300 new masters degree students in AI each year and for the government and universities to create 200 additional doctoral students specialising in the subject. It also recommended conversion courses to help more people acquire skills in machine learning and called for a government effort to help businesses understand how they can use AI to increase productivity and improve their products and services.

Mr Pesenti said he and Prof Hall had already secured verbal commitments from a number of businesses to fund the additional masters students. "The UK today has good skills but it is not at the scale that is necessary," he said.

The government should make more of its own data and data from publicly-funded research available to corporations and academics, the report said. "The big thing to drive the adoption of AI in industry is to allow broader access to data," Mr Pesenti said.

The report advocated legal changes to create an explicit "right to mine" data in any publicly-funded research. Currently, there is a public "right to read" most of this research, but whether others could exploit the data contained in such research has been a legal gray area.

Prof Hall and Mr Pesenti called for the creation of joint government-industry "Data Trusts" that would create model contracts for sharing government data with industry and could eventually serve as data repositories businesses could access.

The House of Lords currently has a select committee examining artificial intelligence, with the possibility that they will recommend legislation at the end of their inquiry.