White paper also lays out ambition to use technology to address issues of ageing and mobility
The government’s Industrial Strategy whitepaper has pledged that technology and data are central to the UK’s future.
The document sets out four “grand challenges” that the government, working with business, academia, and society at large, has committed to overcoming in the coming years.
The first of these challenges is to “put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution”. The second pledges to ensure the UK maximises the benefits of “the global shift to clean growth”.
For the third challenge, the government vows that the UK will “become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility”. The final challenge is to ensure that the country uses “the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society”.
The government said: “A truly strategic government must do more than just fix the foundations: it must also plan for a rapidly changing future, look to shape new markets and industries, and build the UK’s competitive advantage.
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It added: “The public and private sector must work with universities, researchers and civil society to put the UK at the forefront of these revolutions, breaking down conventional barriers within and between business sectors and academic disciplines. This is what the grand challenges will achieve.”
In the case of the first challenge, the government has made four individual commitments, the first being to boost the UK’s research credentials and “make the UK a global centre for artificial intelligence and data-driven innovation”. The second strand of the challenge is to help various industries “boost their productivity through artificial intelligence and data-analytic technologies”.
The third part of the government’s AI plan is to ensure that the UK becomes a world leader in the “safe and ethical use of data and artificial intelligence”. The final part is a pledge to “help people develop the skills needed for jobs of the future”.
Antony Walker, deputy chief executive of techUK, said that the industry body “strongly welcomes” the government’s commitment to the artificial-intelligence sector.
“There is still plenty to do, including supporting those millions of small businesses not yet taking advantage of basic tech,” he said. “Companies can’t take advantage of AI until they have built their basic digital foundations – we would like to see a digital-readiness index to measure progress in building these foundations.”
Walker added: “However, this white paper shows a clear commitment from government to prepare for and embrace the future. Given the challenges that lie ahead for the UK economy post-Brexit, there is a clear need to commit to the long term. This white paper is a great start.”