Business Secretary Greg Clark has launched the Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy, setting out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address productivity performance, embrace technological change and boost the earning power of people right across the UK.
With the overriding aim of making the UK “the world’s most innovative nation” by 2030, the Government has committed to investing a further £725 million over the next three years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to respond to some of the greatest global challenges and opportunities faced by the UK. This will include £170 million designed to “transform” the construction sector.
The Government has previously committed £1 billion to the first wave of Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund projects, including an investment of £246 million in next generation battery technology and £86 million for robotics hubs across the UK.
The White Paper launched on Monday 27 November also confirms that the Government will be pressing ahead on a series of Sector Deals, with construction, life sciences, automotive and Artificial Intelligence (AI) the first to benefit from these new strategic and long-term partnerships with Government, all backed by private sector co-investment.
As part of its all-new Industrial Strategy, the Government has identified four Grand Challenges, one of which is to put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution. This represents an open invitation to business, academia and civil society alike to work and engage with the Government in order to innovate, develop new technologies and ensure that the UK seizes these global opportunities.
Stephen Martin, director general at the Institute of Directors, observed: “The Industrial Strategy identifies the key challenges that the UK economy will need to overcome if businesses are to remain competitive in an increasingly global race. It also takes some important steps in starting the flow of public investment to overcome these hurdles. We hope that it will become the cornerstone of a long-term vision of post-Brexit Britain, and one that promotes innovation and the free flow of ideas. It’s particularly welcome to see how the Government has acknowledged the calls from industry to take a more broad-based approach to addressing questions around skills, infrastructure and research in order to support our future economy. We hope this will continue as these plans are taken forward.”
Laying the foundations
(ISC)² is the largest membership body of information security professionals in the world. Dr Adrian Davis, European managing director at the organisation, has made comment on the Government’s new Industrial Strategy, in turn expressing concern over certain aspects contained within.
“We welcome the Government’s investment in a future Artificial Intelligence industry led by the Alan Turing Institute,” stated Davis. “Along with the investment in infrastructure also announced, this represents a positive move towards creating a digital economy and the skills, knowledge and experience needed to succeed in the connected world. However, even though cyber security is mentioned as one of the key priorities in AI, we’re concerned that cyber security doesn’t appear in other parts of this Industrial Strategy.”
Davis previously held the position of principal research analyst at the Information Security Forum of PwC and currently works on cyber security projects with leaders at organisations including Microsoft, Rothschild, Credit Suisse and Royal Mail.
As far as Davis is concerned, without security being designed-in from the start, AI, Smart and Internet of Things systems will be vulnerable to bias, bad data and sabotage, with “the Industrial Strategy for a digital economy building the roof before we have laid the foundations.”
Davis continued: “Imagine a smart city that could be hacked, just like in the movie The Italian Job, where the robbers reprogrammed Turin’s traffic lights in order to create a traffic jam, and the chaos that could ensue if self-driving cars, traffic lights and transport systems all stopped working.”
Embellishing this theme, Davis observed: “Now that the Government wants to use AI for everything from healthcare through to recruitment, we urgently need a programme of validation such that any AI technology has been through a rigorous assessment process that eliminates bias, bad data and sub-standard, insecure programming.”
Skills, training and education
For Davis, the Government’s focus on skills, training and education is to be welcomed. “Although it’s not specifically mentioned in the skills for the digital age, we hope that cyber security will be an integral part of the opportunities offered to individuals and educators. The upskilling of computer science teachers is mentioned again. The hope is that other parts of this Industrial Strategy are not just re-announcements of current initiatives.”
In conclusion, Davis informed Risk UK: “If we begin this Industrial Strategy by requiring that security is designed and built-in from the start, it would have benefits for the UK’s economy greater than those already promised. We could become a world leader in the sphere of data security. The Government promises that we will “lead the world in the safe and ethical use of data and AI” but, in order for that vision to be realised, we absolutely need to make sure that we’re not sacrificing security on the altar of innovation.”