Why the UK needs to train tomorrow’s AI talent today

Posted on 21 Feb 2019 by Maddy White

A new post-graduate artificial intelligence (AI) qualification to boost manufacturing and business productivity and create high skilled jobs has been announced today.

artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is transforming many sectors – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Inward investment to the UK’s artificial intelligence sector has increased by around 17% over the past year – more than the whole of Europe combined, according to the government.

As companies throughout the UK increasingly use AI in processes from manufacturing to fashion and construction to medical imaging, upskilling people to develop and maintain the new technology is crucial to its success in boosting productivity.

This is part of the government’s continued drive to be a world-leader in harnessing the economic benefits of AI and the data-driven revolution, as part of the modern Industrial Strategy.

The schemes, aimed at people of different stages in higher education and available to researchers at a variety of levels, helps to build advanced AI skills at all levels, a key commitment contained within the AI Sector Deal.

AI is a technology that is undergoing both rapid growth, and a rapid skills gap. A report published last year from Accenture suggested that should this digital skills gap continue, the UK economy could forfeit as much as £141.5bn of the GDP growth promised by investment in intelligent technologies like AI over the next decade.

‘Qualified’ AI experts

Thousands of graduates are to become qualified experts in artificial intelligence (AI) to drive up advanced skills in the AI sector.

For the first time, the UK will have a nationwide programme of industry-funded AI Masters courses coupled with work-based placements.

What’s on offer?

  • Up to 200 new AI Masters places at UK universities funded by companies such as DeepMind, QuantumBlack, Cisco, Accenture and BAE Systems
  • 1,000 students will have the opportunity to enhance their skills with new PhDs at 16 dedicated UK Research and Innovation AI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), located across the country
  • Up to five AI research Fellowships, created in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute to both attract and retain the best research talent from around the world

Application & training of AI is vital

L'Oreal has launched its AI diagnostic tool - image courtesy of L'Oreal.
L’Oreal has launched its AI diagnostic tool – image courtesy of L’Oreal.

The potential for AI is extensive, it offers numerous benefits to manufacturing, society and businesses across all sectors.

Beauty giant L’Oréal even tapped into the advanced technology to create a digital skin diagnostic system for its customers. It analyses a user’s skin and then offers a personalised product routine to address specific skin priorities.

But, artificial intelligence is a mathematical tool not a complete solution. It learns by constant training and testing, and this is vital in ensuring a reliable system, for example in healthcare or skincare diagnostics. Research is constantly happening and this must be fed into AI systems to make it as accurate and helpful as possible.

There are also concerns that AI should be regulated, but with such a burgeoning technology that only few know how to use, who should provide the legislation?

The reality is, no one quite understands the potential of AI, and that is why we need to train people in order to gain this. If the UK can provide that training then there is no reason why it cannot lead in the field of artificial intelligence. AI is the technology to supersede them all, but it needs to be trained carefully and its application entirely understood if it is to be fully harnessed.

Smart Factory Expo is Europe’s largest digital manufacturing show – presenting the most extensive free programme of presentations across seven stages, 150+ exhibitors, and thousands of digitally-savvy manufacturers.

It is the largest component of Digital Manufacturing Week, an annual celebration of UK manufacturing excellence that takes place every November in Liverpool. This year saw 5,322 visitors to Digital Manufacturing Week (up 36% on 2017).

Clear your diary and join us next year: 13-14 Nov 2019!