Government and industry to work together to put the UK at the forefront of AI technologies

  • CognitionX co-founder Tabitha Goldstaub to chair new AI Council and become AI Business Champion
  • Professor Dame Wendy Hall confirmed as first Skills Champion for AI in the UK
  • Announcement follows appointment of Roger Taylor as chair of world-first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and launch of AI Grand Challenge

Globally-renowned AI expert Dr Demis Hassabis will today be confirmed as an adviser to the new Office for Artificial Intelligence as the UK looks to cement its place as a world leader in the fast-growing technology.

Hassabis, who is the co-founder of leading AI research company DeepMind, will provide expert industry guidance to help the country build the skills and capability it needs to capitalise on the huge social and economic potential of AI - a key part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Digital Secretary Matt Hancock will also confirm Tabitha Goldstaub as the chair and spokesperson of the AI Council, a new industry body tasked with increasing growth in the AI sector and promoting its adoption in other sectors of the economy.

Tabitha Goldstaub is the co-founder of AI company CognitionX, an online platform which provides companies with information and access to AI experts to boost their businesses, and runs CogX, one of the largest gatherings of AI experts in the world.

She led the team who wrote the influential report London: the AI Growth Capital of Europe, and was the co-founder of Rightster, the largest online video distribution company outside the US. She is also the co-founder of Future Girl Corp and an adviser to Founders 4 Schools.

The announcements form part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, and follow the Grand Challenges announced by the Prime Minister to use the county’s power in research and innovation to ensure the benefits of technology are felt by everyone. It also builds on the £1 billion joint Government and private sector investment announced earlier this year to put the nation at the forefront of the global AI industry.

One of the four Grand Challenges is on AI and data, which is at the centre of the Government’s plans to unlock the potential of the data-driven economy and put the UK at the forefront of AI technologies. It will be led by a Business Champion and a Skills Champion, working alongside Ministers and responsible for engaging industry voices and raising the profile of the challenge.

Matt Hancock will also today announce Dame Wendy Hall, who led last year’s independent review on AI, as a Skills Champion for AI, and Tabitha Goldstaub as the AI Business Champion.

Speaking in London, Digital Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to say:

Whether it’s improving travel, making banking easier or helping people live longer, AI is already revolutionising our economy and our society.

Britain is already an authority in AI, with the world’s best AI company and the leading use of AI in Government. We are determined to capitalize on this position.

Cutting-edge technology is the basis of the future of our economy. Under this Government, investment in the tech sector doubled in the last year, is growing at three times the pace of the rest of the economy, unemployment is at a 40-year low, inequality is falling, and we are seeing the first sustained fall in debt in a generation. We must build on these strengths.

We want to harness the best possible AI leadership to help us seize this opportunity. Demis Hassabis, Tabitha Goldstaub, and Wendy Hall have the expertise and vision to help us make sure the huge benefits of this powerful new technology are available to everyone.

Dr Demis Hassabis CBE, adviser to the Office for AI and CEO and co-founder, DeepMind, said:

I’m honoured to be taking on the role of Adviser to the Office for AI, and look forward to the huge opportunity that lies ahead.

I’ve always believed that AI could be one of the most important and widely beneficial breakthroughs of the 21st century - and as a proud Londoner, it’s fantastic to see the UK’s world-class universities and start-ups already making major scientific advances.

Alongside the research, I’m very excited about the role the UK can play in making the case globally for AI’s safe and ethical deployment.

Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of CognitionX, said:

Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform our world for the better but to be successful we need to galvanize people in businesses right across the country.

I’m honoured to be named chair of the AI Council because I’m passionate about championing the rapid and responsible adoption of this cutting-edge technology.

By focusing on skills, data ethics and diversity, we can boost innovation and funding and put the UK at the forefront of this exciting and revolutionary sector.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, University of Southampton, said:

I am glad to see the Government taking forward one of the key recommendations of my review. These appointments will help lay the foundations for the UK AI industry to thrive and provide the leadership we need to help it grow.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said:

Artificial intelligence provides significant opportunities for future economic growth, which is why we made it a crucial part of our modern Industrial Strategy and worked with industry on a sector deal that outlines how we will ensure the UK is best placed to realise this potential.

The knowledge and experience Demis and Tabitha will bring to their new roles is invaluable and underlines our ambition to be at the forefront of the AI and data revolution.

Further info

  • Research suggests artificial intelligence could add £654 billion to the UK economy by 2035, and the country is already recognised as the number one place in the developed world in readiness for AI.

  • Today’s appointments follow Roger Taylor being confirmed as the chair of the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, new plans to for an AI masters scheme and a commitment to develop a new National Data Strategy.

  • The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will advise the government on how to enable and ensure ethical, safe and innovative uses of data, including for AI. It will work with, and advise, Government and existing regulators.

  • The Office for AI is based in the UK Government and is responsible for overseeing implementation of the UK’s AI strategy.

  • As well as advising government on how to improve its use of the technology, the AI Council will promote industry-to-industry cooperation, boost the understanding of AI in the business world, and identify barriers to growth and innovation.

Grand challenges

The modern Industrial Strategy sets out Grand Challenges to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future, ensuring that the UK takes advantage of major global changes, improving people’s lives and the country’s productivity.

One of the four challenges is on AI and data, which is at the centre of the Government’s plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.

The Prime Minister also recently announced plans for how we can transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia by 2030.

The Government has since opened a competition, with £50 million of funding available, for a new set of radiology and pathology images, to help develop important new AI algorithms to fight disease.

This is an important step to digitise all pathology networks by 2025, which lays the groundwork for even greater adoption of AI-based technology.


Notes to editors

The Government’s modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building an economy/a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

Demis Hassabis

Demis Hassabis is co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, a neuroscience-inspired AI company which develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

A child chess prodigy, Demis coded the classic game Theme Park aged 17. After graduating from Cambridge University, he founded videogames company Elixir Studios and completed a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at University College London. Science declared his research on imagination and memory as one of 2007’s top breakthroughs.

He is a five-time World Games Champion, recipient of the Royal Society’s Mullard Award, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Academy of Engineering, winning the Academy’s Silver Medal. In 2017 he featured in the Time 100 list of most influential people, and in 2018 he was awarded a CBE for services to science and technology, elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and also awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Imperial College London.

Tabitha Goldstaub

Tabitha Goldstaub is the co-founder of AI company CognitionX, an online platform which provides companies with information and access to AI experts to boost their businesses, and runs CogX, one of the largest gatherings of AI experts in the world.

She led the team who wrote the influential report London: the AI Growth Capital of Europe, was the co-founder of Rightster, the largest online video distribution company outside the US. She is also the co-founder of Future Girl Corp and an adviser to Founders 4 Schools.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall

Dame Wendy Hall, DBE, FRS, FREng is Regius Professor of Computer Science, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International Engagement) at the University of Southampton, and is the Executive Director of the Web Science Institute.

With Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt she co-founded the Web Science Research Initiative in 2006 and is the Managing Director of the Web Science Trust, which has a global mission to support the development of research, education and thought leadership in Web Science.

She became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the 2009 UK New Year’s Honours list, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

She has previously been President of the ACM, Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, was a founding member of the European Research Council and Chair of the European Commission’s ISTAG 2010-2012, and was a member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance.

She is currently a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on the Digital Economy, and is co-Chair of the UK government’s AI Review, which was published in October 2017.

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