The progress humanity has made in developing and advancing artificial intelligence is truly mind-blowing. One of the most revolutionary events happened in the early 1900s when a Spanish engineer introduced the first chess-playing machine that was capable of a ‘king and rook against king’ endgame without human intervention. Little did we know what machines would be able to do 100 years later.
Nowadays, it’s hard to say if artificial intelligence has more fans and opponents, however, there are definitely few who remain indifferent. One more thing is clear: if you want to achieve professional success in the near future, you have to keep up with the latest AI trends as it will only reinforce its positions.
To help you with this, we’ve collected the most relevant information about the role of AI in the UK professional landscape and the impact it will make on it in 2024.
Current Landscape of Artificial Intelligence in the UK
Why future belongs to AI technology
First and foremost, you should acknowledge and embrace the fact that AI is already transforming businesses, and the process will only gain momentum in the future. There are two major reasons for that:
- AI helps enhance efficiency. The automation and optimisation opportunities that AI solutions provide allow us to reduce mechanical errors, promptly identify areas for improvement, operate around the clock, and also exempt employees from routine and repetitive tasks. In 2022, 39% of businesses globally already integrated AI tools and AI models to enhance their business process automation.
- AI provides valuable insights. By analysing vast amounts of data for a shorter period of time, AI provides interesting insights, helps make more accurate predictions, and enables informed and data-driven decision-making at various levels of an organisation.
In other words, AI adoption can help UK AI companies use human resources more reasonably and concentrate on more complex and strategic tasks instead of wasting energy on operational ones. As a result, employees become more involved, and their performance levels improve.
AI 2023 stats and trends worldwide
To make this idea more visual, let’s have a look at some AI statistics and AI trends worldwide. For instance, 2023 can be considered the year of the Generative AI breakout. What to expect from it in the near future:
- 40% of organisations with reported AI adoption expect to invest more in AI (particularly Generative AI tools) in the next three years;
- 28% of organisations say that Generative AI use is already on their board’s agenda;
- The adoption of AI is expected to significantly reshape the workforce in the next three years. 20% of companies are planning on reskilling their employees, whereas 8% of respondents are going to decrease their workforce by more than 20%;
- The most significant decrease in the workforce is predicted to be seen in service operations and supply chain management (54% and 45% of respondents respectively).
AI stats and trends in the UK
Among the current AI development trends, there are:
- Prominent advances in healthcare, particularly diagnosing, drug development, and personalised medicine;
- Customer service and support improvements by means of multi-skill chatbots and AI assistants;
- AI chip development that will enable more powerful and efficient processing of AI apps;
- Integrating AI with other technologies, including the Internet of Things and Blockchain.
AI market size in numbers
- In 2023, the United Kingdom made the top 5 countries AI leaders worldwide;
- With 1.8 billion dollars in 2023, the Generative AI market size is expected to reach 7.38 billion dollars in 2030;
- The AI market size reached almost 10 billion dollars in 2023, and it’s expected to continue its growth up to 26.5 billion in 2030. The leading fields will be AI Robotics, Autonomous and Sensor Technology, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing.
Key AI Companies in the UK
According to the Artificial Intelligence Sector Study 2023, there are currently 3,170 active companies in the UK providing AI infrastructures, products, or services. The prevailing majority of them are registered and operate in London, the South East, and the East of England.
All AI companies are divided into two categories: dedicated and diversified. Dedicated AI companies are those that specialise exclusively in the development, deployment, and advancement of AI sector, while diversified AI companies (usually large tech companies) have AI activity as part of a broader diversified product or service offer.
In the UK, the top 5 dedicated artificial intelligence companies include:
- DeepMind. The company aims to create breakthrough technologies that could solve the hardest scientific and engineering challenges of our time with a deep focus on responsibility and safety.
- LimeJump. The company is on a mission to optimise 100% renewable energy through an intelligent virtual grid. They have developed and introduced a unique platform that is expected to help accelerate the UK’s transition to a net zero grid.
- LoopMe. The company is one of the fastest-growing global AdTech businesses. They use artificial intelligence to improve brand advertising performance and outcomes.
- Peak.ai. The company has developed a unique AI platform that is aimed to optimise core parts of the value chain, including managing inventories, pricing products, and interacting with customers.
- Lendable. It’s an AI-based lending platform that offers a revolutionary simple approach to borrowing money.
The top 5 diversified UK AI sector contributors are:
- Facebook UK. A social network platform.
- IMB UK. A leading provider of global hybrid cloud and AI and counseling services on innovations in AI.
- Microsoft. Known as a leading software development company, it also specialises in hardware, gaming systems, and cloud services development.
- Google UK. A leading provider of various web-based everyday and business services.
- Accenture. The company provides various consulting services on analytics, change and customer relationship management, systems integration, network technology, security, and workplace technology.
AI Impact on UK Industries
To get a clearer understanding of how AI technologies will change industries in 2023, let’s examine some key trends in the three most important sectors.
Finance and Banking: Main Statistics and Trends
According to the UK Finance 2023 report, UK financial institutions see numerous opportunities in implementing AI. 90% of respondents have already adopted Predictive AI for their back-office functions and experienced benefits from it. 60% of respondents also believe in the transformative power of Generative AI, which will result in significant cost savings and improved operational effectiveness. Applications of Gen AI are expected to include assisting with translating code between languages, document search and response within internal policy and procedures, and generating marketing content.
Even though many companies are only testing the Gen AI implementation, 73% of them can already see significant cost and efficiency use cases. Based on their data, it was possible to estimate some of the potential benefits Gen AI can offer for the financial services sector:
- Removing repetitive tasks can result in speeding up code writing by 25-50%;
- Better efficiency for summarising and generating insights will result in reduced costs in loan underwriting accuracy and document preparation by 5-10%;
- Improved knowledge management through document search and retrieval can bring up to 30% productivity gains across analyst roles;
- Improved AI automation will lead to a 60% faster response time on prioritised client requests and a reduction in the cost of running customer service centres by 30-45%.
Despite this impressive potential, Gen AI implementation has also its challenges. The key concerns may include:
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA);
- Consumer Duty guidelines;
- Cybersecurity and data privacy;
- Intellectual property infringement.
Therefore, robust mitigation approaches and regulatory guidelines have to be developed to ensure the safe and effective utilisation of AI.
Healthcare and Medical Research: Statistics and Trends
As we know, the UK government announced a £100 million fund aimed to capitalise on AI potential in life sciences and healthcare. This sector lays truly great hopes on AI and the assistance it can provide to the healthcare industry professionals. Here are some examples of how AI could accelerate the development of the industry in 2024:
- Further the development of dementia identification and treatment. AI can help with identifying those at risk of dementia and related conditions, ensure the relevance and effectiveness of trials, and provide better data on how well new therapies work.
- Diagnosing, and potentially treating, mental ill health. Some leading companies are already using conversational AI to support people with mental health challenges and guide them through prevention routines, which would reduce the strain on NHS waiting lists.
- Creating general-purpose applications across a range of health challenges could free clinicians up and enable them to spend more time with their patients.
The challenges healthcare professionals might encounter while adopting cutting-edge AI tools:
- Controlling the data used for AI systems;
- Privacy issues;
- Lack of standards for using AI for patient care;
- Ethical and regulatory issues regarding its fairness, transparency, and trustworthiness;
- Lack of explainability of algorithms.
Natural Language Processing: Market Trends in the UK
The market size of NLP is expected to grow consistently, and its market volume is predicted to reach US$2.26 billion by 2030. Among the factors that will contribute to this growth, there are:
- Rising demand for multi-skill chatbots and virtual assistants;
- Need for sentiment analysis, trends prediction, and opinion mining in social media;
- Demand for more context-aware NLP systems that can make a more accurate digital data analysis;
- Growing popularity of voice assistants and speech recognition technologies.
The current NLP trends comprise:
- Adoption of NLP solutions in various industries, including healthcare, finance, talent acquisition, and customer service industries, among others;
- Using new deep learning techniques that lead to improved accuracy and efficiency;
- Development of multilingual NLP models that can understand and process multiple languages;
The factors that could potentially hamper the growth of the market are mainly connected with reliability issues and the lack of skilled labour to manage AI technologies.
Workforce and Skills Development in the UK
In October 2023, the UK government announced a £118 million boost to skills funding. This is supposed to foster a new generation of top global experts, including data engineers, machine learning engineers, and AI data scientists, and help reshape talent needs within organisations.
Training Programs and Educational Initiatives
There are some examples of the initiatives the newly announced AI skills package includes:
- 12 new UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training in the development and responsible, trustworthy, and safe application of AI;
- The creation of a £1 million AI Futures Grants scheme to help the next generation of AI leaders relocate to the UK, thus making the UK a global destination for top AI talent;
- The British Council and UK Universities are funding 15 GREAT scholarships for international students to come to the UK to study Computer Science and Technology courses;
- The Global Talent Lab initiated the ‘Backing Invisible Geniuses’ (BIG) scholarship pilot aimed to attract top STEM talent to the UK’s leading universities;
- The creation of a new visa scheme for the world’s most talented AI researchers to come to the UK to complete internships and placements;
- Up to £2 million for Oak National Academy to test new uses of AI (particularly lesson planning) in education.
Regulatory Landscape and Ethical Considerations in the UK AI Domain
To ensure successful AI implementation in our professional and everyday life, it’s crucial to address the emerging risks that AI may pose to humanity. For that, there must be a strong legal foundation that will both encourage AI innovation to thrive and safeguard against potential risks.
The areas in which AI can potentially pose risks:
- Discriminatory outcomes and unfair bias;
- Safety laws for products that adopted AI;
- Consumer rights law for those who deal with AI-driven technologies.
UK government’s approach to AI
On 22 September 2021, the government published its ‘National AI strategy’, which sets out a ten-year plan on AI. The body responsible for overseeing the successful implementation of this strategy is the Office for Artificial Intelligence, a unit within the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).
The strategy comprises three aims:
- Investing and planning for the long-term needs of AI to ensure leadership in the industry;
- Transitioning to an AI-enabled economy;
- Establishing national and international governance frameworks for AI to foster innovation and investment.
Current AI regulatory environment in the UK
According to the existing data protection law and the Equality Act 2010, AI is required to process personal data fairly, therefore, mitigating the risks of unfair bias across a range of characteristics.
According to existing product safety laws, all goods that are manufactured and placed on the UK market are safe. The products with adopted AI technologies and safety risks specific to them should be monitored closely.
There is also tort law that addresses harms and liabilities and offers a legal framework to hold individuals or entities accountable for damages they cause. However, at the moment, it is not clear how tort law may be applied to fill any gap in consumer rights law protection in the context of products that have adopted or integrated AI technology.
- Statista – AI United Kingdom
- McKinsey – The State of AI in 2023
- DSIT – Artificial Intelligence Sector Study
- UK Finance
- NHS England
- GOV. UK AI Skills Package
- Statista NLP – United Kingdom
- House of Lords Library AI