Lack of funding in AI is placing UK companies susceptible to falling behind rivals

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UK businesses are at risk of falling behind international rivals because of a failure to use more artificial intelligence, a report by Microsoft has warned.

The computing giant found that more than half of UK leaders have no AI strategy in place within their organisation.

That’s despite the potential benefits to productivity and relieving workers of more mundane tasks.

More than a third admit they are not focused on AI at all, while studies suggest that organisations making use of AI are outperforming those who aren’t by five per cent.

Of the 1,000 business leaders surveyed in partnership with Goldsmiths, University of London and YouGov, four in ten said that they believe their current business model will cease to exist within five years.

The report, Maximising the AI Opportunity, details how sectors including healthcare, finance, manufacturing and retail could feel significant benefits from developing workers’s skills with AI. 

Despite the majority being open to experimenting with such technology, fears over the cost of implementing it are cited as one of the reasons why decision makers hesitate from making it a reality. 

‘How society, business and people adapt to AI will become one of the most pressing considerations of this generation and the next,’ said Microsoft UK chief executive Cindy Rose.

‘Only by applying AI in the right way can we unlock its extraordinary potential for good. 

‘It is our firm belief at Microsoft that adopting a human-centric approach can help organisations of all shapes, sizes, and sectors use AI to positively impact their businesses, employees, and customers alike.

‘But success tomorrow requires action today – organisations must act now to maximise the AI opportunity.’

Fears of job losses remain a concern for employees, with just under half (45 per cent) of the 4,000 surveyed worried that AI could take their job.

Trust in organisations to use AI responsibly is also an issue raised, as well as fears that older generations of workers could get left behind.

‘Without doubt, artificial intelligence can provide a great opportunity for British society and the economy,’ said Lord Clement-Jones, chairman of the House of Lords select committee on artificial intelligence.

‘Today the UK enjoys a position of AI innovation, so as we enter a crucial stage in its development and adoption, the country has a clear opportunity to be a world leader. 

‘For this, an ethics-backed partnership between business, academia and government will be pivotal.’

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