UK AI roadmap and the future of smart machines

By Dr. Sabine Hauert – University of Bristol

In January, the AI Council put out the AI roadmap for the UK.

The AI Council is an independent expert committee. It provides advice to the UK Government, as well as high-level leadership of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem.

This roadmap sets out long-term ambitions and suggests near-term directions for all government departments, with the aim of cementing the UK as one of the very best places in the world to live with, work with and develop AI.

You can read the 10 recommendation centred around research, development & innovation, skills and diversity, data, infrastructure and public trust, and national, cross-sector adoption in the summary here. Or read the full document here.

The roadmap ties nicely into efforts of the Robotics Growth Partnership (RGP), with both chairs, David Lane and Paul Clarke, members of the AI Council and contributors to the roadmap. Like AI, Smart Machines are expected to impact the economy and our way of life. In the last 30 years, robotics contributed 10% to the increase in GDP per capita in OECD countries. Many of the findings in the report around research, skills, public trust, and adoption reflect discussions we’ve been having at the RGP. In particular, excitement around digital twins and living labs. From the roadmap: “AI will provide the embedded intelligence within all manner of new smart machines, many with autonomous capabilities, that can work collaboratively with humans to transform their productivity, safety and quality of life. By enabling the fast and safe development, testing and demonstration of new AI-based goods and services, including distributed software systems and intelligence embodied in smart machines and products, businesses, researchers and citizens can gather the data and experience necessary to inform future policy, regulation, products and services”.

Over the past year, we’ve been thinking about how this fast and safe deployment of smart machines can happen, by building an ecosystem of researchers, developers, industries, and stakeholders in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, and a pipeline which includes Digital twins, Testbeds, and Living Labs.

“There is a truly bigger picture of the way connected Smart Machines, AI and Digital Twins can be transformative for the UK in achieving its ambitions in sustainability, resilience, security and prosperity, including levelling up. Our ambition is to coalesce forthcoming Government interventions to achieve a coherent approach for the UK with sufficient critical mass to have impact developing these sovereign capabilities.” – David Lane

Stay tuned for more work from the AI Council – looking forward to working with them on AI-powered smart machines.

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