Was enough done at Bletchley Park? UK businesses call for increased AI investment

Just over two-fifths (43%) of businesses that responded to a recent Zoho survey have urged the Government to boost funding for businesses developing AI technologies, to foster innovation, as the UK strives to become a global AI leader.

The survey findings echo the sentiment of 71% of responding businesses, which consider the UK a leading technology hub. These results support the Government's objective to evolve into a Science and Technology Superpower, a key motive behind the Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit.

At the AI Safety Summit, concerns were raised that AI could be “one of the biggest threats to humanity”. This raises the question: Did the Bletchley Park Summit adequately address these issues?

Sachin Agrawal, Managing Director of Zoho UK, remarked: “The AI Safety Summit was a notable starting point for addressing AI and its associated concerns. The gathering of top intelligence and influencers from across the globe was commendable. It provided a platform for essential discussions. We anticipate future developments in this area as evolving technology continues to offer both advantages and challenges.”

Furthermore, 46% of UK survey participants called for more Government regulation to shield businesses from AI-related threats. Similarly, 39% advocated for increased regulation to ensure AI's safe development, a recurring theme at the Summit.

Agrawal added: “AI has emerged as a crucial priority, demonstrating its usefulness in key business areas like customer service, fraud detection, and providing rapid, comprehensive insights. Its role in businesses is undeniably important, yet concerns about bias, job displacement, and data protection persist.

“Zoho has consistently promoted trustworthy AI. As risks become increasingly evident, prioritising the implementation and use of safe AI is essential for all stakeholders. This includes proper policies and training for businesses to responsibly operate the technology. Only then can customer data be secured and trust established.”

“The Safety Summit laid a solid foundation for AI development. However, a sustained and collaborative effort among government, industry, and academia is essential to better understand and apply AI in business. Another positive step is the £500 million AI funding announced in the Autumn Statement. We hope for more clarity on how this will be utilised and its impact on businesses.”

AI training and skill development, crucial for addressing the ongoing skills shortage, were also key topics at the AI Safety Summit.

30% of survey respondents suggested the government should offer training courses and guidance to support workforces in understanding and utilising AI effectively.

In response to broader industry concerns, the Government announced a £118 million increase in AI skills funding, aiming to alleviate some apprehensions about the scarcity of necessary skills.