23 January 2018

Want to get serious about artificial intelligence? You’ll need an AI strategy

by Hannah Miller, André Petheram and Emma Martinho-Truswell

“Artificial intelligence will cut across nearly every industry… It will shape the world that our kids and our grandkids grow up in”

— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Publications of AI strategies and policy statements: all have taken place since 2016

Publications of AI strategies and policy statements: all have taken place since 2016

The transformative potential of AI is being discussed more and more in boardrooms, parliaments and cafés all over the world. Forecasts such as a $14 trillion increase in global GDP, and 40% increase in productivity by 2035, are a testament to the power of its perceived benefits.

Governments are waking up to the fact that AI could transform their economies, public services, and workforces. If governments are to capitalise on the AI opportunity, they need to have well thought out structures and processes in place to do so. Our recently-published government AI readiness index found that some countries are more ready than others.

But while we measured government AI readiness as the interplay of different things like innovation in government and the number of tech startups in the country, there is more that governments can do. A select group of countries have produced forward-thinking and wide-ranging policy documents to lay out a strategy for how they plan to maximise AI’s benefits, and mitigate its potentially negative impacts.

Screenshot 2018-01-23 15.38.45.png

According to our research, seven countries have now announced a national AI strategy: Canada, China, the UAE, Singapore, South Korea, France and Japan. At least two more countries have AI strategies forthcoming in early 2018. (This includes Mexico, whom Oxford Insights is advising on their artificial intelligence strategy in a project funded by the UK Embassy in Mexico, working in partnership with C Minds.)

Some countries have AI strategies under another name. The UK’s Industrial Strategy contains significant AI policy proposals; this, combined with an extensive independent review, makes the UK another world-leader in AI policy. In the USA, three reports completed under the Obama administration, including a research and development strategy, demonstrate America’s own potential policy approach.

This is an elite club, with these countries declaring themselves global leaders in AI.

At a broad level, our review of these strategies revealed that they share five key themes: ethics; using AI in government and public services; research & development; capacity, skills & education; data & digital infrastructure. The next leaders in AI governance would do well to structure their strategies in similar ways.

The countries we examined had varied takes on these themes, reflecting their societies’ values and priorities. As this suggests, crafting any new AI strategy will require answering difficult but important questions.

For example, should research and development in AI be mostly driven by the public or private sectors? Where should education in AI be focused, and how should it be funded? How can governments ensure monitoring and enforcement in relation to ethical issues? How should governments support innovation taking place in universities, startups and big companies? What is the best route to gathering and managing the large volumes of data required for widespread AI experimentation and implementation?

Leaders in the field are already investing heavily in institutions bringing together great researchers and innovators working in AI, such as the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, set to become a new national centre for AI research, and Canada’s Vector Institute. Ambitious research into AI ethics is also underway: in the last months of 2017, for example, the French Digital Council set out to interview over 200 people, including business leaders, philosophers and sociologists.

For the smartest governments, 2018 will be the year of the AI strategy. Those countries that fail to move soon risk being left behind. The next generation of innovators and investors will move their talents and their capital to wherever they will be best used.

Would you like to talk about how to write a comprehensive, innovative and ethical AI strategy? Contact us or email Richard@oxfordinsights.com.


More insights

21 April 2017

Why Government is ready for AI

12 July 2017

Five levels of AI in public service

26 July 2017

Making it personal: civil service and morality

10 August 2017

AI: Is a robot assistant going to steal your job?

19 September 2017

AI and legitimacy: government in the age of the machine

06 October 2017

More Than The Trees Are Worth? Intangibles, Decision-Making, and the Meares Island Logging Conflict

16 October 2017

The UK Government’s AI review: what’s missing?

23 October 2017

Why unconference? #Reimagine2017

03 November 2017

AI: the ultimate intern

09 November 2017

Motherboard knows best?

23 November 2017

Beyond driverless cars: our take on the UK’s Autumn Budget 2017

05 December 2017

Why Black people don’t start businesses (and how more inclusive innovation could make a difference)

06 December 2017

“The things that make me interesting cannot be digitised”: leadership lessons from the Drucker Forum

15 February 2018

Economic disruption and runaway AI: what can governments do?

26 April 2018

Ranking governments on AI – it’s time to act

08 May 2018

AI in the UK: are we ‘ready, willing and able’?

24 May 2018

Mexico leads Latin America as one of the first ten countries in the world to launch an artificial intelligence strategy

05 July 2018

Beyond borders: talking at TEDxLondon

13 July 2018

Is the UK ready, willing and able for AI? The Government responds to the Lords’ report

17 July 2018

Suspending or shaping the AI policy frontier: has Germany become part of the AI strategy fallacy?

27 July 2018

From open data to artificial intelligence: the next frontier in anti-corruption

01 August 2018

Why every city needs to take action on AI

09 August 2018

When good intentions go bad: the role of technology in terrorist content online

26 September 2018

Actions speak louder than words: the role of technology in combating terrorist content online

08 February 2019

More than STEM: how teaching human specialties will help prepare kids for AI

02 May 2019

Should we be scared of artificial intelligence?

04 June 2019

Ethics and AI: a crash course

25 July 2019

Dear Boris

01 August 2019

AI: more than human?

06 August 2019

Towards Synthetic Reality: When DeepFakes meet AR/VR

19 September 2019

Predictive Analytics, Public Services and Poverty

10 January 2020

To tackle regional inequality, AI strategies need to go local

20 April 2020

Workshops in an age of COVID and lockdown

10 September 2020

Will automation accelerate what coronavirus started?

10 September 2020

Promoting gender equality and social inclusion through public procurement

21 September 2020

The Social Dilemma: A failed attempt to land a punch on Big Tech

20 October 2020

Data and Power: AI and Development in the Global South

23 December 2020

The ‘Creepiness Test’: When should we worry that AI is making decisions for us?

13 June 2022

Data promises to support climate action. Is it a double-edged sword?

30 September 2022

Towards a human-centred vision for public services: Human-Centred Public Services Index

06 October 2022

Why You Should Know and Care About Algorithmic Transparency

26 October 2022

Harnessing data for the public good: What can governments do?

09 December 2022

Behind the scenes of the Government AI Readiness Index

06 February 2023

Reflections on the Intel® AI for Youth Program

01 May 2023

Canada’s AI Policy: Leading the way in ethics, innovation, and talent

15 May 2023

Day in the life series: Giulia, Consultant

15 May 2023

Day in the life series: Emma, Consultant

17 May 2023

Day in the life series: Kirsty, Head of Programmes

18 May 2023

Day in the life series: Sully, Partnerships Associate/Consultant

19 May 2023

LLMs in Government: Brainstorming Applications

23 May 2023

Bahrain: Becoming a regional R&D Hub

30 May 2023

Driving AI adoption in the public sector: Uruguay’s efforts on capacity-building, trust, and AI ethics

07 June 2023

Jordan’s AI policy journey: Bridging vision and implementation

12 June 2023

Response to the UK’s Global Summit on AI Safety

20 June 2023

 Unlocking the economic potential of AI: Tajikistan’s plans to become more AI-ready

11 July 2023

Government transparency and anti-corruption standards: Reflections from the EITI Global Conference in Dakar, Senegal

31 August 2023

What is quantum technology and why should policymakers care about it?

21 September 2023

Practical tools for designers in government looking to avoid ethical AI nightmares

23 October 2023

Collective Intelligence: exploring ‘wicked problems’ in National Security

23 October 2023

Exploring the concepts of digital twin, digital shadow, and digital model

30 October 2023

How to hire privileged white men

09 November 2023

Inclusive consensus building: Reflections from day 4 of AI Fringe

13 November 2023

AI for Climate Change: Can AI help us improve our home’s energy efficiency?

14 November 2023

Navigating the AI summit boom: Initial reflections

20 November 2023

AI for Climate Change: Improving home energy efficiency by retrofitting

24 November 2023

Will AI kill us all?

27 November 2023

AI for Climate Change: Preventing and predicting wildfires 

28 November 2023

Service Design in Government 2023: conference reflections

04 December 2023

AI for Climate Change: Using artificial and indigenous Intelligence to fight climate change

06 December 2023

Release: 2023 Government AI Readiness Index reveals which governments are most prepared to use AI

11 December 2023

AI for Climate Change: AI for flood adaptation plans and disaster relief

18 December 2023

AI for Climate Change: Managing floods using AI Early Warning Systems