Chancellor pledges £500m investment to boost UK AI development

22 November 2023, 14:44

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AI research. Picture: PA

Jeremy Hunt said he wants to make the UK an ‘AI powerhouse’.

The Government has pledged to spend £500 million over the next two years on the computing power for AI models to help make the UK a world leader in technology.

In his autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the funding would help create new “innovation centres to help make us an AI powerhouse”.

The Government said the key to the UK creating a world-leading AI ecosystem was access to compute, which helps develop new artificial intelligence foundation models used to power programmes such as AI-powered chatbots and powerful problem-solving and analysis tools used by scientists and researchers.

The additional funding will bring the total planned investment in compute to over £1.5 billion, the Government said, which could allow researchers and start-ups to develop new AI models.

“When it comes to tech, we know that AI will be at the heart of any future growth. I want to make sure our universities, scientists and start-ups can access the compute power they need,” Mr Hunt said.

“So building on the success of the supercomputing centres in Edinburgh and Bristol, I will invest a further £500 million over the next two years to fund further innovation centres to help make us an AI powerhouse.”

The UK hosted the first AI Safety Summit earlier this month and has launched an AI Safety Institute, which plans to work with the biggest industry firms to test and evaluate new AI models before they are released to the public.

Industry expert Jonathan Boakes, managing director at tech firm Infinum, said the latest investment in AI was welcome, but more funding for education around AI was also needed.

“The UK Government’s allocation of £500 million for AI powerhouses and a 25% tax deduction on IT expenditure shows strong support for tech innovation. But there’s huge concern that this investment might not be used wisely,” he said.

“Research shows 78% of UK businesses plan to invest in AI in the next year, but 73% feel unprepared for its integration.

“Success in the AI revolution demands more than just plugging gaps with cash. It requires strategic planning, workforce training, and expert collaboration to maximise the impact and prevent implementing AI for AI’s sake.

“The rush to embrace AI carries the risk of hasty decisions fuelled by FOMO (fear of missing out), jeopardising sound judgment.

“While the financial boost is appreciated, it must come with clear guidelines and support from the Government to empower businesses in utilising it effectively.”

By Press Association

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