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UK Government post-Brexit Digital strategy prioritises AI and learning

Posted: 1 March 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

The British government has launched its highly anticipated digital strategy today (01/03), in the wake of its impending exit from the European Union.

Ahead of the strategy, it announced in a statement on Sunday that it would invest £17.3 million in university research on AI in an attempt to make the UK a world leader in tech. According to a report by consultancy firm Accenture, Artificial Intelligence could add around £654 billion to the UK economy.

The strategy announces partnerships with private businesses including Lloyds, Barclays and Google to offer digital training across the UK. By providing four million opportunities for learning, the government aims to put digital skills on par with literacy and numeracy, ensuring that “no one is left behind” by a digital divide.

Lloyds has pledged to train 2.5m people, charities and small businesses by 2020, while Barclays will help 45,000 children to learn to code and one million people understand digital and cyber security, all for free.

The Data Generation

“The government’s pledge to boost UK research in universities is welcomed. As a nation built on a foundation of technical and engineering innovation, we’re constantly looking for reasonable and sustainable ways to boost productivity and efficiency.” Said SAS’ Head of Technology, Peter Pugh-Jones.

“Artificial intelligence is the next logical step for our digital economy, especially when it comes to engaging the ‘Data Generation’, who are looking for a quicker and more efficient service online.”

Many of the training opportunities are existing initiatives that have been expanded. Google will offer five hours of free digital skills as part of its Garage initiative which was unveiled late last year and launch a summer programme in coastal towns. BT’s Barefoot Computing Project will give teachers free extra computer science resources and O2 will continue to deliver online safety tips via its partnership with the NSPCC.

The digital strategy also includes the undertaking of a major review of the effect artificial intelligence will have on the UK economy. The review, led by computer scientist Dame Wendy Hall and Jerome Pesenti, CEO of AI firm BenevolentAI, will aim to identify areas of opportunity and commercialisation for the UK’s growing AI sector.

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