From Business Insider’s Oscar Williams-Grut: LONDON — The government is putting cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless internet, “smart” energy technology, and robotics at the heart of its new post-Brexit industrial strategy.
Theresa May is set to launch the government’s “Modern Industrial Strategy” on Monday at a regional meeting of the cabinet in the North West.
The Prime Minister announced in a release on Sunday evening that the strategy would be focused around ten key strategic pillars, the first of which is: “Investing in science, research, and innovation.”
The government says that a £4.7 billion increase in research & development (R&D) funding announced in last year’s Autumn Statement is central to the new industrial strategy. This investment will go to areas such as AI, “smart” energy technology, robotics, and 5G wireless, the only specific industries name-checked in the release.
The new policy push appears to be geared around the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” rather than any effort to revive heavy industry such as coal or steel. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is a term coined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year to describe how a rising tide of automation and robotics will transform the labour market.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark says in the release that the new Modern Industrial Strategy will “improve living standards and drive economic growth across the whole country.”
Multiple forecasting agencies have predicted that technologies such as robotics and AI are likely to destroy millions of jobs globally in everything from customer service to asset management. WEF estimates that 5 million net jobs could be destroyed by 2020 while Citi and Oxford University estimate that 57% of jobs across the OECD are at risk of automation.
The government appears to be hoping to “future proof” Britain against this rising tide of automation by turning us into a nation of highly skilled technical workers who can help enable the AI and robotics revolution rather than fall victim to it.