Artificial Intelligence: is impetus lacking in the UK for the digital infrastructure required?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzzword that many in the tech industry use usually denoting machines and algorithms taking over the roles that people once did.
Will a robot take your job?
Well, quite possibly according to the testimony, discussion and written evidence contributed by academics, media, technical corporations and those in related businesses invited by the UK’s cross-party select committee on AI.
“Unless Britain can find a way to boost productivity, social and political crises will continue as incomes stagnate”
Using this evidence and months of consideration their final report, released last week concluded that UK is in a unique position to be a driver to influence the developments of AI and its growth.
China has usually led on the developments of AI. But it’s suggested that given the UKs current situation of a firm legal system, multi tech-linguistic speakers, the ever-growing start-up community technological development, and of course the strong academic research culture as contributing assets the UK could be a leader, and especially in the ethics of such technology.
The truth is, is that the economy needs it. Like it or not technological development is the way that economies are likely to grow in the future. The UK’s economic growth lags behind Germany’s by 35% and behind the US by 30%.
Or as the Centre for Data innovation put it “Unless Britain can find a way to boost productivity, social and political crises will continue as incomes stagnate”.
The UK needs to improve on its 0.9% growth, and AI is a clear opportunity.
However, before conversations about robots taking our jobs, retraining, ‘robot tax’, Universal Basic Income payments or all of us living in a super technologically advanced world, even with the best minds in the world AI will not be possible without digital infrastructure.
There is concern in the cross-party group that there is simply not enough ‘impetus’
The report highlights Matt Hancock MP had explained that 95% of premises would have superfast broadband. For full fibre broadband the cost is £200m. As of February 2018, 3% of the UK is covered by full-fibre broadband.
There is concern in the cross-party group that there is simply not enough ‘impetus’ in order for the country to take full advantage of the potential AI offers and urge the Government to invest in 5G and ultrafast broadband.
The best minds from around the world too may be deterred from coming to the UK, an impending Brexit, a Windrush generation scandal, and a hostile immigration government currently incumbent in the UK, visas and freedom of movement will be threatened, not to mention rights and abilities to bring families, or take short trips back home easily and without great cost.
AI is very likely to be intrinsic in our modern future globally, but fundamentally the UK is currently developing regressive policy that cannot be for the greater good of the UK economy.
even with the best minds in the world AI will not be possible without digital infrastructure.
Take for example the current situation of the European Space Agency.
Lord Whitty, of the EU Internal Market sub-committee states in a letter from the House of Lords to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that “‘Brexit clauses’ are potentially punitive” to a prominent data gathering satellite programmes called ‘Copernicus’ which the UK has unique capabilities and strong influence on the data produced and Galileo.
Decisions are being taken already to remove the UK from strategic roles, unable to wait for the protected negotiations of Brexit. Carrying with it the fear expertise will be lost and “impossible to bring that work back to the UK”
All of which points to the obvious conclusion that corporations, investors and developers may find frictionless opportunities to grow AI technology with robust leadership, elsewhere within stable and growing economies and open borders.
The UK might well be able to contribute with suggested ethics, but if digital infrastructure isn’t invested in soon, and parameters of investment in talent secured then the leadership and innovation may take place well beyond these shores.