Half of UK companies believe AI will 'fundamentally change' their industry

The UK must act quickly to avoid a knowledge 'chasm' as the rapidly-developing technology outpaces growth in the number of people who understand it

Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman wants to guard against 'not good' AI
Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman wants to guard against 'not good' AI

The UK must act quickly to avoid a knowledge “chasm” in the rapidly-developing world of artificial intelligence (AI), as international competition heats up, according to a leading business group.

Almost half of firms believe the current wave of technology will fundamentally transform their industry, but only a third feel their business has the skills to adapt, according to a new survey by the Confederation of British Industry in association with IBM.

The CBI warned of a growing digital gap between those UK firms that are leading the way on technological developments and those who are being left behind.

AI investment is gaining momentum with 42 per cent of companies planning to ramp up spending over the next five years while one in five have already done so over the past 12 months.

Companies are also investing in the internet of things which links appliances together as well as advanced analytics which allows companies to gain insights from huge amounts of data.

The CBI said: “Innovation in business is essential for advanced economies such as the UK. It is the chief driver of sustainable economic growth and a major source of productivity gains. It also pulls in overseas investment, supporting thousands of jobs across the country.

“British businesses are directing resources into new technology, with cloud, mobile and security investments forming the UK’s digital backbone. But a major shift is on the horizon as Artificial Intelligence gains momentum with half of firms believing their industry will be completely transformed by it in the years to come.

“The digital gap risks becoming a chasm for those firms left behind with Artificial Intelligence set to transform the face of UK businesses.”

A host of high-profile companies have sought to harness the power of intelligent machines that can learn tasks in a way that mimics the human.

On Thursday, Google’s AlphaGo AI machine beat the world’s number one player of the ancient Chinese game, Go. The feat was seen as a major milestone in the development of AI, due to the enormous complexity of the game.

Tesla’s Elon Musk has gone one step further into science fiction with his proposal for a machine that links the human brain with a machine interface by creating miniscule devices.

“If I were to communicate a concept to you, you would essentially engage in consensual telepathy,” Mr Musk said in the interview last month.

“There are a bunch of concepts in your head that then your brain has to try to compress into this incredibly low data rate called speech or typing.”

“If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person.”

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