Investment, training and regulation: how the UK plans to become an AI superpower

The UK has set out to become an AI superpower, but what does that mean, and how will this be achieved? 

The importance of building a solid foundation for the AI industry in the UK cannot be understated. It’s the fastest growing deep technology in the world and has the potential to transform all areas of life and business. However, the infrastructure, skills and market buy-in required to enable this need to be aligned to an overall, action-driven growth strategy. 

The rate of innovation in the AI sector is accelerating across various industries and applications. To sustain and drive this growth, three key areas need to be considered:   investment, regulation and training.

Investment for the future

In the  National AI Strategy  published last year, the UK government acknowledged the country’s AI sector needs greater diversity and continuous investment in skills and training. 

The government has since published the first AI Action Plan to show how it is delivering against the National AI Strategy which identifies new priorities for the year ahead.

The UK Government’s Office for AI and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced in February that £23m in funding will be used in scholarships to AI and data science conversion courses for graduates from underrepresented groups, with 2,000 scholarships created. 

This is the second round of AI scholarships the government has funded. In the first round, launched in 2019, 76% of scholarship recipients were women, 45% were black and nearly a quarter had disabilities. Over 80% of recipients were based outside London and the South East. The aim of these funding rounds is to help broaden the diversity of people working in tech, and to encourage continual innovation – something FYLD is passionate about. 

Passion and funding are both key to ensure momentum for ongoing innovation. When working together, government and industry leaders like FYLD can create step changes in safety and productivity for fieldworkers and organisations. 

For example, recently FYLD, in partnership with SGN and National Grid, was awarded £500k from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM), to dramatically transform safety in the utilities industry using AI to predict high-risk events before they happen.

This funding will be used to accelerate development of FYLD’s Predictive Analytics Platform, enabling the latest step change in safety. This platform will predict operational and safety incidents on site, enabling effective mitigation and substantially less non-productive time on site. You can read more here.

Implementing regulation for sustained growth

It’s not only financial investment the government is advancing to reach ‘superpower’ status. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has recently published new plans for regulating the use of AI.

The approach is based on six core principles that regulators must apply, with flexibility to implement these in ways that best meet the use of AI in their sectors. The core principles require developers and users to:

  • Ensure that AI is used safely
  • Ensure that AI is technically secure, and functions as designed
  • Make sure that AI is appropriately transparent and explainable
  • Consider fairness
  • Identify a legal person to be responsible for AI
  • Clarify routes to redress or contestability

Standardising the use and growth of AI encourages best practice and accessibility. This includes supporting compliance requirements. FYLD recently assisted a major construction customer to make sure that all of its supply chain workforce were being kept safe on site by understanding jobs that were underway and people working on them and then appropriately monitoring, tracking and delivering those jobs in a safe and efficient way.  It was also able to help its customer query charges coming through from contractors when safety assessments driven by FYLD’s AI platform did not correlate easily to bills levied.

Training the next generation

Industry leaders like FYLD are full of talented and skilled individuals. With the advancement of machine learning and the rate of innovation within the AI sector, it’s crucial the people involved in making this goal a reality continue to pursue ongoing professional development, upskilling and transferring their existing knowledge to other team members and generations. 

However, the current diversity statistics show what is expected of a developing modern industry. Taking gender as an example, insight from the World Economic Forum reveal women represent just over 30% of the workforce within data and AI despite providing around 45% of the disruptive tech skills share. You can read more about how FYLD approaches gender parity in our blog here.

FYLD is proud to have an inclusive, diverse and skilled workforce. The environment of continual learning and innovation we have created within our team enables the best possible results for our customers and the industry. This adds to the UK’s collective AI knowledge and practices – you can read more about our workplace culture here.

The momentum of appropriate investment, regulation and training needs to be sustained if the UK is to secure an AI superpower status – we at FYLD are proud to be at the forefront of technological innovation and customer service to help make this a reality.

Get in touch with us today to find out how FYLD can help you power safety and productivity in the field.