Britain announced on Tuesday its commitment to invest over £100 million in establishing nine new research hubs focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and to provide training for regulators in the field of technology. The Department of Science, innovation, and Technology (DSIT) also promised practical tools to monitor the risks and opportunities posed by AI across sectors from telecommunications to healthcare and education. The government’s decision to take a more agile approach to regulation – and a hands-off approach until the risk is better understood – is being welcomed by many policy experts and industry figures.
The investment comes in response to the government’s consultation on a wide-ranging AI strategy published last year. The government opted not to establish a central AI regulator but instead entrust the responsibility for monitoring the technology to existing sector regulators, DSIT said. These regulators will be given the flexibility to act quickly and in a targeted way.
In a statement, DSIT Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan called the move “a significant milestone” and emphasized that Britain’s commitment to enabling responsible use of AI is stronger than ever. She pointed to a new task force on the safety of foundation models, widely seen as the most critical AI tool for driving innovation and productivity.
The task force will work to establish the UK as a global leader in these critical technologies. It will “ensure we have the right tools and resources to build a world-leading capability in this area of crucial importance,” Donelan said. The task force will “work closely with international partners to boost our capability in this area of the world,” she added, focusing on ensuring the UK is a leader in regulating these new technologies.
DSIT also announced a PS9 million investment via the International Science Partnerships Fund to bring together researchers in the U.K. and the United States to focus on building safe AI tools. The funds will support 21 projects to create creative, reliable, and ethical AI and machine learning tools that are designed to help increase productivity.
A separate PS10 million will be used to facilitate regulators’ training. The aim is to prepare them for the challenges that will emerge as AI is increasingly embedded in a variety of sectors and enable them to respond rapidly and effectively.
The announcements follow last November’s AI summit at Bletchley Park, which was dedicated to ensuring the responsible use of AI and raising public trust in the technology. At the event, major tech companies agreed to submit new AI models to review before release, a measure that Google is already implementing.