Editorial

New UK initiative to shape global standards for Artificial Intelligence

The Alan Turing Institute selected to lead pilot of a new AI Standards Hub supported by the British Standards Institution and National Physical Laboratory

Posted 13 January 2022 by Christine Horton


The Alan Turing Institute, supported by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), will pilot a new UK government initiative to draft global technical standards for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The new AI Standard Hub will create practical tools for businesses, bring the UK’s AI community together through a new online platform, and develop educational materials to help organisations develop and benefit from global standards. This will help put the UK at the forefront of this rapidly developing area.

The Hub will work to improve the governance of AI, complement pro-innovation regulation and unlock the huge economic potential of these technologies to boost investment and employment now the UK has left the European Union.

BSI, the UK National Standards Body, and NPL, the country’s national metrology institute, will share their knowledge in developing standards and research to deliver the pilot with The Alan Turing Institute. The hub is backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office for AI (OAI). 

The move kicks off one part of the UK’s new National AI Strategy, a ten-year plan to strengthen the country’s position as a global science superpower and “harness AI to transform the economy and society while leading governance and standards to ensure everyone benefits”.

DCMS Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Chris Philp said this is “the first step in delivering our new National AI Strategy and will develop the tools needed so organisations and consumers can benefit from all the opportunities of AI. We want the UK to lead the world in developing AI standards.”

Use of AI to double

New research predicts that the use of AI by businesses will more than double in the next twenty years, with more than 1.3 million UK businesses using artificial intelligence by 2040. 

It shows that in 2020, UK businesses spent around £63 billion on AI technology and AI related-labour and this is expected to reach more than £200 billion by 2040. 

The UK is already successful in this field. According to Tech Nation, the UK now has more than 1,300 AI companies – a 600 per cent increase in the number of firms over the last decade. In the same period, venture capital investment rocketed from $120 million to more than $3.4 billion in 2020.

Ahead of the pilot’s launch, there will be a series of roundtables with a wide range of organisations led by The Alan Turing Institute to shape the Hub’s activities.