This week, the United Kingdom released its first-ever national AI policy. As one might assume, the government’s decade-long commitment to improving domestic artificial intelligence capabilities — by focusing resources and attention on skills, talent, compute power, and data availability — has been widely praised by the country’s startup community.
However, given the lack of a funding announcement to accompany the release, it’s unclear how serious the government is about making the UK a “global AI superpower.”
With the expenditure review planned for October 27 — which will lay out governmental spending plans for the next three years — a better signal is expected to arrive soon.
Before that, TechCrunch spoke with Marc Warner, CEO of Faculty, a U.K. AI startup, who said the government, needs to show it’s serious about providing long-term support to develop the U.K.’s capabilities and global competitiveness with an appropriate level of funding — while applauding the government’s “genuine ambition” to support AI.
Warner’s company, which raised $42 million in a growth round earlier this year, has launched its own internal education program to recruit PhDs and train future data scientists. While Warner is a member of the AI Council in the United Kingdom, an expert advisory organization that advises the government and was briefed on the policy,
He told TechCrunch, “I think this is a really pretty excellent plan.” “It has a genuine ambition to it, which is uncommon in government, and they identify some of the most critical issues that need to be addressed.
“The issue — and it is a major issue — is that there are now no figures associated with this. “So, although there’s a lot of excellent stuff in there in theory, it’s vital in reality that it’s backed by the resources it requires — and that it has the commitment of the rest of the government to the high-quality execution that some of these things will necessitate.”
Warner warned that if a “very serious approach” isn’t accompanied with adequate — dare we say, “world-beating” — money, the promise potential of the strategy will fade away.
“That’s a question for the spending review, but it seems to me that having done — what appears to be a very serious strategy — then… it fades into a much more generic strategy off the back of not really willing to make the funding commitments, not really willing to push through on the execution side and actually make these things happen,” says the author.
When asked what level of financing he would want to see the government commit to the strategy in order for it to achieve its long-term goals, Warner said the United Kingdom needs to aim high — and do so on a global scale.