UK invests £100M in AI research and regulation, £45M in quantum

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The UK government is investing over £100mn in AI R&D and regulation, in its first official response to the AI white paper consultation it released in March 2023.

Unlike the EU’s sweeping AI law, the UK’s announcement further backs the white paper’s “pro-innovation” approach.

Aiming to establish rules that can be “more agile” than those of competitor nations, the government confirmed once again that it “will not rush to legislate.” Instead, it will retain a context-based approach that empowers regulators to address potential risks.

For this reason, the UK is pledging £10mn to prepare and upskill regulators to evaluate the opportunities and risks associated with the technology. Key regulators, including Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority, will have to publish their individual approach by April 30.

“By taking an agile, sector-specific approach, we have begun to grip the risks immediately, which in turn is paving the way for the UK to become one of the first countries in the world to reap the benefits of AI safely,” said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology.

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Indicating the government’s clear focus on supporting rather than rule-making for homegrown AI r, the largest amount of the funding will go towards R&D.

Specifically, £90mn will support the launch of nine research hubs across the country to further harness the tech’s benefits and ensure the deployment of “responsible” AI. Another £2mn provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will focus on “what responsible AI looks like” in sectors such as education and the creative industries.

Some £19mn will go to 21 projects seeking to accelerate the deployment of AI and machine learning solutions.

Quantum tech runner up for investment

Meanwhile, the UK is also investing £45mn in quantum technologies, especially targeting hardware and applications in healthcare and transport.

£30mn are earmarked for the development of quantum computers, while the remaining £15mn aim to integrate quantum into the public sector on projects from optimising energy grids to treating neurological disorders.

The funding is part of the country’s quantum strategy, which has committed a total of £2.5bn between 2024 and 2034. For its part, the EU’s Quantum Technologies Flagship programme has pledged €1bn until 2028. Further investment is expected through the European Declaration on Quantum Technologies, a collaboration between 11 member states seeking to turn Europe into the “quantum valley” the world.

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