The UK government is teaming up with universities to fund investment into AI and Robotics.This is more like it! The future success of the UK does not lie with bringing back old manufacturing jobs, its lies with creating new ones.

Last September, a report from Accenture said that by 2035, the UK’s annual growth rate would be 2.5 per cent without AI, but factoring in the likely effect of AI, would be 3.9 per cent.

Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer at Accenture said: "AI is poised to transform business in ways we’ve not seen since the impact of computer technology in the late 20th century. The combinatorial effect of AI, cloud, sophisticated analytics and other technologies is already starting to change how work is done by humans and computers, and how organisations interact with consumers in startling ways. Our research demonstrates that as AI matures, it can propel economic growth and potentially serve as a powerful remedy for stagnant productivity and labour shortages of recent decades.”

And so, in reaction to all this potential, the UK government, as part of its new digital strategy is to spend £17.3 million. Karen Bradley, Culture Secretary, is due to formally announce the plan on Wednesday.

But won’t the rise of AI and robotics hit the job markets?

Paul Cant, vice president EMEA, BMC Software said; “As with any industrial revolution in history, we need to remember that whilst some jobs will be lost, new ones will be created if employers take tangible steps now to upskill their workforce and create a culture of innovation. It is encouraging to think that if a greater education on robotics can be implemented at university level, then many of the scaremongering headlines we are seeing in the press can be muted.”

He is right. But there is a danger of letting this one slip through our fingers.

A £17.3 million investment is a good start – but compare that to the potential value that could be created. In fact, Accenture reckons that by 2035, AI may be worth around £645 billion to the UK economy. Do the maths, £17.3 million to try and create £645 billion of output.

Returning to Paul Cant, he said: “From a workplace perspective, the true mark of responsive leadership today is in offering the training and a new workplace culture that can prepare people for the digital shift. Our recent research conducted with Opinion Life reveals that 88 per cent of employees surveyed globally, feel that this responsibility lies firmly with their employer. Creating an environment where new innovations, skills and ideas can flourish will be the key for ensuring that humans and robotics can work side by side in the future.”

This is too important an opportunity to leave to chance.

The Accenture report said: “we need to prepare the next generation by integrating human intelligence with machine intelligence so they can successfully co-exist in a two-way learning relationship and re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills required for the future.”

This is a big deal, the opportunity is enormous, but the government, at a time when it needs to load up its big guns to ensure that the UK comes out the other end as a winner, instead prepares a pea-shooter.

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