The UK Government is now a European front-runner in terms of artificial intelligence investment, with one-fifth of departments investing more than £40 million in AI annually.
According to a study by Accenture, which surveyed 300 government executives and IT decision-makers in Finland, France, Germany, Norway and the UK, Britain is significantly ahead on current and anticipated AI spending.
Around 20% of UK respondents stated their organisation was investing more than £40 million in AI annually, while a further 47% said their organisation is investing between £12 million and £40 million.
This represents the highest figures reported among the five countries surveyed. In contrast, respondents from Norway cited the lowest levels of investment in AI, with just 22% saying that they were investing between £12 million and £40 million annually.
In terms of what the UK is already using AI to enhance, Accenture pointed toward the infrastructure in place for paying out pensions.
The UK’s Department for Work & Pensions makes pension and welfare payments to 20 million people each year. Faced with a recent surge in new pension applications, the department amassed a backlog of 30,000 unprocessed claims. Implementing this with human labour would have taken many months, but instead the DWP partnered with AI firm UiPath to rent 12 robots, clearing the backlog and issuing pensions in just two weeks.
Mark Jennings, who leads Accenture’s Health & Public Service offering in Europe, said: “Our research indicates a healthy appetite and investment in AI technologies. In fact, the Government has recently announced considerable investment in education and skills for AI, which is a very welcome move.
"Thanks to increased government funding for AI projects, a strong ability to scale AI investments, and a skilled workforce, the UK will continue to be a world-leader in AI from which our economy will reap benefits in the coming years.”
Last year, the UK Government pledged to inject £2.3 billion to boost AI talent, including the creation of over 1,600 jobs, and a Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation.
Jennings added: “To deliver success, an organisation-wide approach must be taken to AI projects, with a focus on ensuring data integrity, practical considerations and employee support.”