AI Race Part 4 of 4: United Kingdom's Bid to Become an AI Ethics Leader

The UK is pledging $1.4 billion in investment for AI development focusing on ethics and education.

Great Britain is one of the latest nations to announce a national AI strategy. In a mixture of private, academic, and government resources, the country is pledging $1.4 billion in investment. By doing so, they join France, Canada, and China who have recently announced their plans in what is fast becoming a global AI race. More European countries are expected to join this elite group as the European Commission estimates a need of $24 billion by 2020 for the Eurozone.

A remarkable piece of the plan is allocated funding for a Center for Data Ethics. The center will develop codes for safety and ethical use of machine learning. This mirrors the French plan that also included a provision for ethics. Such approach highlights the European concern to ensure that the AI development does not overlook its impacts on humanity. Such moral leadership will be a guide not only to European institutions but also help companies worldwide make better choices with their AI technologies. This approach is vital to ensuring AI development does not descend into an uncontrolled arms race.

Another noteworthy part of the plan is the initiative to fund 1,000 new PhDs and 8,000 teachers for UK secondary schools. This move will not only spur further innovation but also ensure the British workforce is prepared to absorb the changes brought by AI developments. It is essential that governments plan ahead to prepare the next generation for the challenges of opportunities of emerging technologies like AI.

Hopefully, other nations will take note of Britain’s holistic approach and invest in areas of ethics and education. Given AI’s potential to re-define humanity, we cannot afford to ignore these issues. With all its opportunities and perils, AI technology development must focus on human flourishing as opposed to the dominance of one nation. The true global AI race is not for any nation but for our planet. Will we win this race or will most humans be left behind?

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Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What do you think about UK’s approach?

Q2. Should countries even have an AI strategy or should this be left to the private sector?

Q3. What would you like to see your country do in this area?