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About the Royal Society

Response to 'Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK'

18 October 2017

The Royal Society fed into the Government’s AI Review following the publication of our report Machine learning: the power and promise of computers that learn by example, which set out how action in key areas – shaping the data landscape, building skills, supporting business, and advancing research – can help create an environment in which this technology can develop for the benefit of all.

We are pleased to see that the Government’s AI review is consistent with a number of key recommendations proposed by the Society in its report:

  • Building digital skills and understanding at every level from schools to universities, and into the workplace, and ensuring that opportunities are not limited by gender, ethnicity or socio-economic background
  • Introducing funded Masters courses in Machine Learning to develop a pool of informed users of machine learning across business, industry, and research sectors
  • Increasing training at PhD level and beyond to invest in the next generation of research leaders in machine learning
  • Integrating machine learning into the government's industrial strategy to help businesses make effective use of this technology
  • Continuing to build on the UK’s track record of open data and safe sharing of data

Says Professor Peter Donnelly FRS, chair of the Royal Society’s machine learning working group, “Machine learning and AI will have an increasing impact on our lives over the next five to ten years. However, there is much work to be done so that we take advantage of the potential of machine learning and ensure that the benefits are shared, especially as this has been identified as a key area of opportunity for the UK economy in the coming years.

“To unlock this potential we need to build digital skills at every level from schools to universities, and into the workplace, so that people are equipped for changes at work and businesses of all sizes are well placed to take advantage of the value of machine learning and AI to their operations.”

Adds Professor Ottoline Leyser FRS, co-chair of the Royal Society and British Academy’s data governance report, which was also referenced in the  AI review, “In the UK we have world class expertise in data science, ethics and a rapidly growing tech sector. There is an opportunity for the UK to lead internationally in identifying the best response to the ethical and social impacts these new uses of data pose. We are pleased to see that our report was highlighted in the AI review. We hope our recommendations will be used to inform the development of the best data governance framework, to manage risks to individuals and communities and maximise the major social and economic benefits for all of society.”