Davos Dispatch: May Day at #WEF2018

Today, it was Theresa May’s turn to take a moment in the Davos spotlight. The British Prime Minister’s speech focused on the march of technology and although much time was spent on the need for tech companies to crack down on criminals and terrorists using their networks, she also focused on Artificial Intelligence.

Notwithstanding the fact that Google and Facebook this week picked France as the base for their new AI research centres, the prime minister said she wants the UK to “lead the world” in deciding how AI can be deployed in a safe and ethical manner. She also said the UK is recognised as first in the world for its preparedness to “bring artificial intelligence into government”, an issue that the Centre for Public Impact has been examining in our ongoing research.

We think AI will change the speed, reliability and quality of government outcomes. It will also allow us to rethink the way in which government itself is structured. But government leaders and policymakers need to start thinking about these issues now or risk missing out on the significant benefits this technology offers – and so May should be applauded for bringing this issue to the fore in Davos.

Only time will tell where and how AI will reshape government – it’s down to us as citizens to take the lead. Ironically this is one thing we can’t rely on a machine to figure out on our behalf.