Impression of Artificial Intelligence

Government funding to accelerate the next generation of safe AI

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has announced that the government is investing significant funding into the development of an expert taskforce to guide its AI ambitions.

The taskforce will be modelled on the success of the Covid-19 Vaccines Taskforce and will help to ensure that the development of artificial intelligence happens safely and reliably, across the economy. This will be done with the ambition of making sure that the UK is competitive across the globe when it comes to the ground-breaking technology.

Foundation models will be the focus of the taskforce. This is a category of artificial intelligence that is based on large volumes of data such as text, images, video or audio and allows the AI to gain wide capabilities across a number of tasks. Examples of foundation models are the widely popular ChatGPT and Google Bard. Examples of areas that can benefit from the potential of this kind of technology include healthcare, where it can be used to accelerate diagnoses, drug discovery, development, and education, where it can transform a teacher’s day-to-day responsibility to free up their time further for teaching.

With the Prime Minister committed to growing the UK economy, the ability of AI to contribute billions of pounds to the UK GDP makes the work of the taskforce essential. With broad adoption across systems around the country, AI has the ability to not only contribute to the economy, but also help with the delivery of better outcomes for people all over the UK. Research suggests that AI could be responsible for the tripling of national productivity rates.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“Harnessing the potential of AI provides enormous opportunities to grow our economy, create better-paid jobs, and build a better future through advances in healthcare and security.

“By investing in emerging technologies through our new expert taskforce, we can continue to lead the way in developing safe and trustworthy AI as part of shaping a more innovative UK economy.”

The taskforce will report directly to both the Prime Minister and the Technology Secretary, and will be led by a expert Chair. With that role being announced later in the summer, Chair of the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency Matt Clifford, will be advising the Prime and Technology Secretary on the development of the taskforce, while the appointment is ongoing.

Michelle Donelan, Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, said:

“Developed responsibly, cutting-edge AI can have a transformative impact in nearly every industry. It can revolutionise the way we develop new medical treatments, tackle climate change and improve our public services, all while growing and future-proofing our economy.

“We need to act now to seize the opportunities AI can offer us in the future. We’re backing our expert taskforce with the funding to make our ambitions for an AI-enabled country a reality and keep the UK at the front of the pack in this emerging technology.

“To ensure such leadership, the greatest capability we can develop is in the safety and reliability of such systems. This will ensure that the public and business have trust they need to confidently adopt this technology and fully realise its benefits. That is exactly what this taskforce will prioritise.”

Considering the reliance that foundation models have on significant computing power, the government is also investing around £900 million for a new ‘exascale’ supercomputer and dedicated AI Research Resource. This will give the UK the necessary processing power to support coming AI innovation. A further part of the taskforce’s responsibilities will be to ensure that this significant funding is used strategically, with priorities being placed on strengthening the UK’s foundation model capabilities.

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