London is the AI capital of Europe, says a report commissioned by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. According to another report, this one from the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence issued by the House of Lords, the UK is, ‘in a strong position to be among the world leaders’ in its development.
If being smart about the implications of this critical technology, having the right skills and ecosystem and a thriving entrepreneurial culture in place were only enough, then UK would seem to be on a good course to profit massively from this new wave of technological change. But even the most fervent cheerleaders for the UK’s AI industry acknowledge that it lacks something vital to come anywhere near that goal. Scale.
At the recent FutureFest conference in London there were conflicting narratives on offer about the potential role to be played in the future of AI by the UK and Europe; some fairly optimistic, some less so, and some downright scary. Just for a change the scariness of these more extreme scenarios did not involve visions of AI taking all our jobs, or robot overlords running amok and subjugating humankind. Instead, they were about more immediate and practical concerns; things we hear about on the news every day such as data privacy and the global balance of power. And somehow this immediacy made them all the more unsettling.