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Appointments endorse need for cross-sector AI collaboration



Three leaders recruited to head government’s new Office for AI following industry body’s 'long call' to engage industry.

The appointment of three UK experts on Artificial Intelligence (AI) from business and academia to lead government’s Office for AI sends a "clear message" about need for public-private collaboration, according to technology industry association techUK.

The organisation has responded positively to the appointment of leaders to the government’s new Office for Artificial Intelligence (AI), set up earlier this year by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

The office has recruited Dr Demis Hassabis CBE as adviser to the new office; Tabitha Goldstaub will chair the new industry body, the AI Council and become AI business champion; and Professor Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, was appointed AI skills champion.

“techUK has long called for industry to be deeply engaged in taking forward the Government’s AI strategy and has heralded the importance of maintaining the UK’s AI leadership,” said Sue Daley, head of cloud, analytics and AI at techUK. “The appointment today of Demis Hassabis and Tabitha Goldstaub certainly achieves both these goals.

“It also sends a very clear, positive message that, only by government and industry working together, will we realise the full potential of AI. techUK also welcomes the continued leadership of Dame Wendy Hall on AI skills, given that building the next generation of UK AI talent is vital to securing the UK’s AI future."

Trio of expertise

Hassabis is co-founder of leading AI research company DeepMind. In his new post, he will provide industry guidance to help the UK build skills and capability to harness the social and economic potential of AI.

Goldstaub is co-founder of CognitionX, an online platform which provides companies with information and access to AI experts and also runs CogX, one of the largest gatherings of AI experts in the world. As chair of the AI Council, she will be tasked with increasing growth and promoting adoption of AI across the sectors.

Hall led last year’s independent review on AI, which recommended establishing an AI Council to promote co-ordination, a programme to support public sector use of AI
and funded challenges around data held by public organisations. She is a director of the Web Science Institute.

The appointments follow the appointment of Roger Taylor as chair of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, the Government’s £9 million unit set up to help make the UK the best place in the world for businesses developing AI. A consultation on how the centre should operate was launched earlier this month. Other recent developments include plans for an AI masters scheme and an AI Grand Challenge.

The formation of the new office marks a milestone in the Government’s AI strategy to become a world leader in robotics and machine learning technology. It builds on the £1 billion joint government and private sector AI industry investment announced earlier this year, part of government's Industrial Strategy.

According to the Government, research suggests artificial intelligence could add £654 billion to the UK economy by 2035.

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