AI is set to be bigger than the Industrial Revolution

14th August 2023
Paige West

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden suggests that AI might exert a more significant influence on the UK than the Industrial Revolution, potentially playing a pivotal role in expediting government decision-making processes.

Earlier this year, reports revealed that globally, up to 300 million jobs could undergo transformations, either leading to the creation of new roles or complete automation.

The Home Office has already integrated AI into asylum claim applications and is poised to utilise it further for the purpose of reducing paperwork associated with ministerial red boxes.

Dowden said: “This is a total revolution that is coming, it’s going to totally transform almost all elements of life over the coming years, and indeed, even months, in some cases.

“It is much faster than other revolutions that we’ve seen and much more extensive, whether that’s the invention of the internal combustion engine or the Industrial Revolution.”

Responding to the news, Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group, said: “AI is already having a significant impact on our lives and the way that businesses operate, being harnessed as a tool for good to drive efficiencies and inform strategic decision making based on data analysis and forecasting. In order to truly maximise the potential of AI, the UK must prioritise a workforce of technically skilled staff capable of leading the development and deployment of AI to work alongside staff and make their day-to-day roles easier. People such as graduates, ex-forces and returners are well-placed to play a central role in this workforce through education courses and training in AI, supporting businesses with this rapidly evolving technology.”

John Kirk, Deputy CEO for Team ITG, commented: “AI is developing at a pace that requires action now and this includes the development of proper regulations as well as the upskilling and educating of employees. AI offers huge benefits, especially within the creative sector, enabling tedious and time-consuming tasks to be delivered with speed, giving time back to be spent on tasks that require creative, thought-provoking skill.

“Marketing campaigns are now being delivered on a global scale quicker than ever, highlighting the benefits this emerging piece of technology has to offer, however, we must ensure our teams are fully equipped to manage the new offerings and this also means ensuring it is being used safely. AI has the potential to act as a key creative tool and organisations should now focus on using its benefits in the most safe and productive way.”  

Meanwhile, Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director for Zoho Europe, commented: “It is exciting to see the potential of Artificial Intelligence for business starting to be realised. However, for it to be deployed successfully it needs further development and investment to minimise risk and drive trust. AI offers huge potential for businesses and the economy, lending itself as a useful tool offering improved efficiencies and enhanced customer service capabilities via the use of customer service assistants, data analysis, forecasting and more.

“Creating a safe playing field should be the priority to ensure users are protected against misuse. As AI continues to develop at a rapid pace, collaboration between government, business and industry experts is needed to increase education, and introduce regulations or guidelines which can guide its ethical use. Only then can businesses confidently use AI in the right way and understand how to avoid any negative impact.”

Dowden commended on the potential of AI to boost productivity and liberate workers from hours of monotonous tasks. However, he also cautioned against the significant risks of large-scale hacking that could arise from AI implementation.

Cybersecurity expert, Andy Ward, VP International for Absolute Software, commented: “We are in the midst of an AI revolution and for all the business benefits that AI brings, however, we must also be wary of the potential cybersecurity concerns that come with any new technology. AI can be used to positive effect when bolstering cyber defences, playing a role in threat detection through data and pattern analysis to identify certain attacks, but we have to acknowledge that malicious actors also have access to AI to increase the sophistication of their threats. Organisations should continue to embrace AI and reap the benefits, as long as they ensure proper staff training and are prepared to counter the cyber risks.”

This development coincides with the disclosure that information concerning more than 10,000 officers and personnel from the Police Service of Northern Ireland was exposed online for a few hours last week, stemming from a substantial data breach incident.

“We need to be careful not to overstate these things and do it on an evidential basis, but there is the risk there that has to be addressed,” Dowden added.

Dowden drew a parallel between the expansion of AI and the invention of the automobile, highlighting its capacity to reshape the economy significantly. He emphasised that the government would take measures to prevent any detrimental impacts on humans due to AI's progress.

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