By Dr Richard Wilson
Some UK businesses face a triple whammy: low or non-existent productivity growth; on-going skill shortages; and increases in employment costs due to measures including the Apprenticeship Levy and the rise in the Living Wage.
The solution: invest in AI and robots. Traditionally, robots have been concentrated in manufacturing. This is now changing and there are increasing opportunities to deploy AI and robots in other industrial sectors.
In construction, companies such as Legal & General and Laing O’Rourke already automate some construction techniques off-site. In the mortgage market, UK start-up Habito has launched the world’s first AI Digital Mortgage Adviser. In transport and logistics, Starsky Robots is developing self-driving trucks. In video games, Spirit AI provides a product to help games companies safeguard their players from abusive behaviour.
The UK Government can support this process. We should set ourselves the ambition of making the UK the world centre for research in AI and robotics. We should ensure that R&D Tax Credits incentivise research into AI and robotics and use investment allowances to encourage the deployment of robots by companies. We should make decisive improvements in education and training, as low skilled employment opportunities decline and opportunities for high skilled roles increase. We should make cyber security in homes, businesses and the country a priority as the fourth industrial revolution progresses.
Developments in AI and robotics present opportunities for business, challenges for society and a vital agenda for Government.