Unlocking the AI-powered opportunity in the UK

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is considered the most significant technology that humans are currently working on. It has the potential to solve major societal challenges and improve everyday life, ranging from addressing climate change to developing new medications. The UK has made significant contributions to AI, from Alan Turing’s work in the 1950s to Google DeepMind’s current exploration of protein folding. The country’s start-up ecosystem, academic institutions, and digitally-oriented businesses demonstrate its ability to harness the economic potential of AI.

Google’s Economic Impact Report for 2023 aimed to understand the potential impact of AI on the UK economy. Compiled by Public First, the report highlights how Google’s tools, such as Search, Maps, Workspace, Cloud, Play, and Android, will generate an estimated £118 billion in economic value for the UK this year. Moreover, under the right conditions, AI-driven innovation could create over £400 billion in economic value for the UK economy by 2030.

The report identifies several key findings:

1. Boosting productivity: The introduction of new AI innovations is expected to significantly enhance productivity in the UK. Generative AI alone could save the average worker over 100 hours per year, marking the most significant productivity improvement since the introduction of Google Search. Additionally, AI could save more than 700,000 hours annually in administrative work for general practitioners and teachers. This could help ease workloads, reduce excessive hours, and counter staff shortages, ultimately freeing up £8 billion in public sector resources for other purposes.

2. Making careers more accessible: AI has the potential to boost the economy by over £30 billion per year through the development of assistive technologies that aid over 1 million people with disabilities in the workplace. Currently, around one in five working-age individuals in the UK has a disability, and they are about a third less likely to be economically active. Technologies such as AI-generated captions can help individuals with disabilities regain independence, connect with the world around them, and re-enter the workforce, thereby unlocking economic growth opportunities.

3. Unlocking access to skills: AI could equip individuals with the digital skills needed to thrive in the digital economy. Through the use of AI tutors and coding assistants, it would become easier for everyone to upgrade their digital skills, resulting in a boost of over £4.8 billion in UK productivity annually. Currently, 35% of businesses struggle to find staff with good digital skills, while 39% of unemployed individuals cite a lack of digital skills as a barrier to employment.

To address these opportunities, Google has been actively involved in training over 1 million people in digital skills since 2015. They have visited over 500 locations in the UK, aiming to help individuals grow their businesses and careers.

Furthermore, Google.org’s Social Innovation Fund on AI will allocate £1 million worth of funding to UK-based social entrepreneurs who are driving AI projects that benefit their communities. These entrepreneurs will receive cash grants, mentoring, and acceleration support from Google for Startups Accelerator team to ensure that their innovative ideas have the chance to create meaningful change.

The report emphasizes the UK’s potential to maintain its position as a technology leader and acknowledges Google’s commitment to supporting the country’s aspirations. The UK government has outlined its ambition for the country to become a global leader in AI, science, and technology, with a focus on digital skills for all. Google intends to partner in this vision by using AI to help individuals in the UK achieve their goals, leveraging sustainable, responsible, and impactful technology.

In conclusion, AI has the potential to significantly boost the UK’s productivity, economy, and accessibility to careers and skills. Collaboration between the public, private, and third sectors is crucial in unlocking the potential benefits of AI. Google’s Economic Impact Report highlights the vast opportunities and contributions of AI in the UK, demonstrating the importance of embracing this technology for a positive economic transformation.


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