Already swimming in a sea of big data, we’ll soon be waist-deep in a tidal wave of computer automation. Will we be saying “People used to get paid to crunch that data”, and “Remember a time when maniacal robots didn’t roam the earth trying to eradicate all human life?”.
The latter is a bit extreme… isn’t it? Should we fear the next industrial revolution? Are we at risk of becoming modern luddites, or do we lack the imagination of how to best utilise the benefits of AI?
Maybe – recently some of the greatest minds in technology called for a brief halt to AI training, allowing for government policy to catch up. What do major AI and technology players, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, OpenAI, and those at the Future of Life Institute know that we don’t?
AI fears are nothing new (‘I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that’). In 2018, when AI was but a set of fledging algorithms trained to beat people at chess and Go!, the Brookings Institute (one of many raising concerns) listed a set of overarching principles and recommendations to help guide governments on how to set effective AI use and development policies:
Both the potential socio-economic effects and security concerns (surrounding AI potential use, and the ethics of data gathering) are key discord drivers surrounding AI’s development. Seen by many as an engine of productivity and economic growth, AI could increase efficiency and vastly improve decision-making processes. AI could help generate new ideas, design new products and services, creating new markets that unleash a wave of commerce and wealth creation not seen since the industrial revolution.
However, many are concerned that the under-regulated and siloed use of AI may cause significant disruption to the economy and society at large, let alone deliver on both known and unknown biases inherent in the coding. Superfirms may emerge as hubs of wealth and knowledge, widening the gap between developed and developing countries. Whilst it may boost the need for workers with certain skills, it may render others completely redundant, having far-reaching consequences for global labour markets. Whatever your take on the subject, the fact remains that AI is coming our way.
In response, the UK Government is fast positioning itself as a global AI technology leader (investing >£2.5bn into AI since 2014). The recently released government white paper, ‘A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation’, sets out both AI investment recommendations, and acknowledges the need to intervene and provide a clear, pro-innovation regulatory environment supportive of the UK becoming one of the top places in the world to build foundational AI companies.
In the recent statement, the Chancellor set out a 10-year, £3.5bn commitment for future tech and science investment, earmarking ~£1bn for next-generation supercomputing and AI research. In support of this commitment, Innovate UK’s Future Economy Investor Partnerships (Round 1) supports innovation projects valued at £50k-£2m. The competition scope includes the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in targeted industries (Bridge AI).
Granted expects to see many more AI focussed competitions being released in the future.
The AI race is truly underway!
Written by Chris Hewat-Boyne, Funding Consultant