Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has shared his view that AI will be the most “extensive” industrial revolution yet.
Dowden highlighted AI’s dual role, emphasising its capacity to augment productivity and streamline mundane tasks. However, he also put the spotlight on the looming threats it poses to democracies worldwide.
in an interview with The Times, Mr 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.”
Already making inroads into governmental processes, AI has been adopted for processing asylum claim applications within the UK’s Home Office. The potential for AI-driven automation also extends to reducing paperwork burdens in ministerial decision-making, ultimately enabling swifter and more efficient governance.
Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director for Zoho Europe, commented:
“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.”
While AI can expedite information analysis and facilitate decision-making, Dowden emphasised that the crucial task of making policy choices remains squarely within the human domain. He stressed that the objective is to utilise AI for tasks that it excels at – such as data collation – to facilitate informed decision-making by human leaders.
Discussing the broader economic implications of the AI revolution, Dowden likened the impending shift to the advent of the automobile. He recognised the potential for significant workforce upheaval and asserted that the government’s responsibility lies in aiding citizens’ transition as AI reshapes industries.
Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group, explained:
“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.”
Dowden acknowledged the inherent risks posed by AI’s exponential growth. He warned of the potential for AI to be exploited by malicious actors—ranging from terrorists using it to gain knowledge of dangerous materials, to conducting large-scale hacking operations.
Referring to a recent breach that exposed the personal details of thousands of officers and staff from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Dowden said the incident was an “industrial scale breach of data” that was made possible by AI.
Andy Ward, VP of International for Absolute Software, said:
“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.“
While urging a measured response to potential AI-driven threats, Dowden emphasised the importance of addressing risks and vulnerabilities proactively. He stressed the need to strike a balance between harnessing AI’s immense potential for societal progress and ensuring that safeguards are in place to counter its misuse.
Earlier this year, the UK announced that it will host a global summit to address AI risks.
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