The UK government’s £100m commitment to supporting the development of AI-focused startups provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on how innovation correlates to growth within the tech space, and what developments in generative AI could mean for consumers.
The government’s announcement of an AI taskforce to accelerate its generative AI sector is a promising development for UK tech, potentially creating an avenue through which innovation and growth might be fostered.
The £100-million funding backing the project suggests an understanding of the potential benefits of leveraging AI to create new businesses and enhance existing ones. Beyond the transformative impact that the new generation of AI platforms might have on how any number of businesses operate, AI represents an opportunity to encourage growth and build momentum for the UK tech sector, with this initiative hopefully making that possible.
Artificial intelligence is expected to make a substantial contribution to the economy in the coming years and is projected to raise GDP by 7% within a decade. It offers a wide range of applications across various industries, from healthcare to education, finance, and beyond.
If correctly applied, this investment has the potential to empower cutting-edge AI solutions that will enhance efficiency and create value for both businesses and consumers. But what form will this AI-driven transformation take?
Innovation and growth
Machine-learning platforms that analyse data, predict outcomes and simulate scenarios have been in use for many years, from calculating insurance risk and gambling odds to advising brokers on stock market trends. This new generation of conversational, generative AI have taken things to the next level, offering institutions and enterprises the means of training, redirecting and communicating without relying exclusively on human employees.
The theoretical applications of AI are nearly limitless, and this is where the greatest opportunity for both the tech and commercial sectors lies. Developing new platforms and usages for AI technology have the potential to accelerate innovation and produce solutions that make processes more efficient and interfaces more convenient to use.
For education and training interests, smart AI directory programs can help connect users with the relevant information and even fulfil requests and respond to queries, providing valuable support instantly and at all hours.
Logistical, retail and FMCG businesses could certainly benefit from the analytical and predictive capabilities of AI, allowing it to audit their processes and operations to improve efficiencies and reduce human error through digital oversight.
For tech businesses, however, the greatest potential is in making AI smarter and more accessible. In theory, the government task force will make funding more available and help reduce regulatory and compliance obstacles, making AI an appealing prospect for UK tech startups, returning momentum to a tech sector that has suffered due to widespread economic slowdown.
For most consumers, their only experience of encountering AI platforms to date will be the virtual assistants and digital AI chatbots that tech-savvy brands have implemented in recent years.
At the highest level, groundbreaking new AIs can enhance efficiencies and create value for the businesses that use them, but this incredible potential might stand at odds with the experiences of most consumers, whose own experiences of AI chatbots when interacting with brands and banks are not so positive.
For instance, only 24% of respondents in a recent Studio Graphene survey believed that chatbots were good at understanding the questions they were asked, highlighting the gap between the potential and current applications of AI.
In addition to technological considerations, there is a human element to take into account when adopting AI. Consumers may be accustomed to engaging with human agents, so the transition to automated chatbots may be jarring or frustrating. This can create negative perceptions of AI, potentially even impeding its adoption.
Certainly, it’s important to note that most AI systems are still in the early stages of development, but as conversational and generative chatbots like ChatGPT continue to advance, they are increasingly able to imitate human interactions with greater accuracy.
Increased activity in the UK tech sector stemming from the new task force will hopefully make more advanced AI available for commercial use, allowing consumers to benefit from greater convenience and efficiency. While AI technology still has some way to go before reaching its full potential, it is an area that both businesses and consumers are closely monitoring.
Further, commitment to address the ethical implications of AI issues and ensure that the benefits are realized in a responsible and sustainable way is welcome.
Through these measures, the government is currently showing an understanding of the benefits and the risks of AI and positioning the UK as a global leader in tech and innovation. Indeed, previous examples of investment and efforts to strengthen the sector on the path toward becoming an ‘international technology superpower’ earlier this year affirm this.
The government’s commitment to advancing the AI sector will help address any current limitations and reservations and pave the way for more advanced AI systems in the future. AI still has a long way to come, but with such commitments and investments and the focus of tech companies and startups, we will only see further developments in generative AI models leading to increasingly advanced AI systems becoming more widespread in the future.
By Ritam Gandhi, Director and founder, Studio Graphene
Ritam Gandhi is the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene – a London-based company that specialises in the development of blank canvas tech products, including apps, websites, AR, IoT and more. The company has completed over 250 projects since first being started in 2014, working with both new entrepreneurs and product development teams within larger companies.
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