WIG’s first AI Collaboration Forum – Finding Cross-Sector Solutions in AI

On 7 February 2020 The Whitehall & Industry Group’s AI Collaboration Forum gathered over 100 delegates and over 30 speakers from across the sectors to discuss working together to make the UK a world leader in ethical AI. The diverse audience came from the public, the private and the not-for-profit sectors, as well as from academia. This diversity was also reflected in the stellar line-up of expert speakers, who reflected views from across the board, and included representatives from The Turing Institute, Microsoft, EY, Bank of England, Office for AI, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Digital Catapult, Fujitsu UK, UCL Centre for AI, Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Government Digital Service, Barclays, M&S, Office for National Statistics, techUK, Cisco, Department for International Trade (DIT), Imperial College London, Gowling WLG, Sopra Steria, SAP, Korn Ferry, Atos, Rolls Royce, RBS and Ministry of Justice. The forum was kindly hosted by WIG members EY.

This event was supported by the UK Government Office for Artificial Intelligence, a government body set up following the AI Sector Deal, part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. One of the keynote speakers was Sana Khareghani, the Head of Office for AI. Her organisation produces a variety of guidelines and resources useful for AI professionals. (Please see the resources linked to at the bottom of this page).

The second keynote address was delivered by Rob Elsey, Executive Director Technology and CIO for Bank of England. Rob addressed the asymmetry of Cybersecurity: while there are thousands of successes that don’t get publicised, it takes only one attack going through to damage the organisation’s reputation. He also touched upon the importance of people as the biggest preventative measure when it comes to cybercrime, and gave examples of training initiatives his organisation runs.

An excellent debate came out of the Q&A discussions. Issues that struck a chord in the room included considering the energy consumption and sustainability impact of increased AI uptake, facilitating a more joined-up approach to AI projects across government, and ensuring cities and regions outside of London are able to participate in and benefit from AI.

We asked the AI Collaboration Forum audience for their take on key challenges.
Here's what they said.

Some overarching themes for collaboration in AI mentioned at the Forum were:

-  the betterment of society (through access to education, fostering diversity & equality of those studying and working in the field, supporting social services, using AI to measure, detect and prevent hate speech, harassment, bullying etc.)

- the environment and finding AI solutions to tackle climate change, deforestation, carbon emissions, food waste, illegal wildlife trade and so on

- ethics, and developing technology which serves humanity, while retaining a humane ability to empathise and make decisions that will serve the greater good

- making the UK a world leader in AI – a recurrent theme in some of the panels on the day; while most participants recognised that we may not have the scale of investment that other leading nations have in this field, the UK has commitment to standards, an innovative mindset, and world-class educational institutions to back up its aspirations to be a key player.

*as voted for by the AI Collaboration Forum delegates



A number of wide-impact AI projects the UK is involved in were mentioned on the day, including, but not limited to:

GRID 3 (Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development), an initiative using open source data to map out population, settlements, infrastructure, and subnational boundaries data to design adaptable and relevant geospatial solutions.

AI Clinician – using machine learning to develop optimal treatment strategy for a disease; the information is collected from hundreds of patient cases & from best clinicians in the world; AI does not overrule the clinician, but makes recommendations.

Some resources from the Office of AI that you may find useful:

- Artificial Intelligence Sector Deal 

- A Guide to Using AI in the Public Sector

- Draft Guidelines for AI Procurement

The AI Collaboration Forum was part of WIG's Technology & Digital event series. To see what else we have prepared for you, visit our events listing page