The UK government has announced £100 million in funding for an artificial intelligence taskforce, designed to help develop “the safe and reliable use of this pivotal artificial intelligence across the economy”.
The taskforce is modelled on the COVID-19 vaccines taskforce, and will focus on opportunities to establish the UK as a ‘world leader’ in foundation models – a category of artificial intelligence systems trained on large volumes of data in order to gain sophisticated capabilities across numerous tasks – and their applications. In addition, the taskforce is to support the UK in acting as a global standard bearer for AI safety.
The funding is to be invested in foundation model infrastructure and public service procurement, with the aim of creating opportunities for domestic innovation. It is expected that the first pilots targeting public services will launch in the next six months.
The taskforce will bring together government and industry experts to report directly to the prime minister and technology secretary. The group will be led by an expert chair, set to be announced later in the summer. The government has stated that the taskforce will “play a crucial role” in ensuring that the multi-year funding announced at the annual budget is “strategically invested to prioritise and strengthen the UK’s capability in foundation models”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says: “Harnessing the potential of AI provides enormous opportunities to grow our economy, create better-paid jobs, and build a better future through advances in healthcare and security. By investing in emerging technologies through our new expert taskforce, we can continue to lead the way in developing safe and trustworthy AI as part of shaping a more innovative UK economy.”
Science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan adds: “We’re backing our expert taskforce with the funding to make our ambitions for an AI-enabled country a reality and keep the UK at the front of the pack in this emerging technology.
“To ensure such leadership, the greatest capability we can develop is in the safety and reliability of such systems. This will ensure that the public and business have the trust they need to confidently adopt this technology and fully realise its benefits. That is exactly what this taskforce will prioritise.”