The government’s AI Roadmap, published at the start of 2021, sets the direction for the development of a national AI strategy.
As the roadmap is developed into a strategy, there is a vital role for the RSS to play in setting out the role that statistics and data science have to play in the wider national strategy. There are two senses in which this perspective is important:
- The RSS as a membership organisation has access to the experience and expertise of over a thousand professional data scientists who, as practitioners, focus on the types of issues which are central to the roadmap. There is an opportunity to strengthen the strategy by ensuring that these experiences are represented in the development of the strategy.
- As they stand, the government’s plans do not show an appreciation of the role that statistics will have to play in the strategy. The disciplines of statistics and data science are closely related, and the role of statistics – as well as data science – should be reflected in the AI strategy.
The RSS – led by our Data Science Section – is kicking off a programme of work to shape the AI strategy and ensure that both the discipline of statistics and the experience of working data scientists are reflected in the strategy.
To start this work, we are planning to highlight a number of questions concerning the practice of data science in order to further inform the roadmap. We will be launching a survey soon to help gather intelligence from the community to support this work.
We are also planning a series of events and roundtables to discuss these issues. These events will help us share knowledge and refine our thinking, as well as engage directly with government stakeholders.
This is an important point in the development of AI as countries seek to position themselves as leaders in the field. The UK is well-positioned to lead on many areas of AI – but the strategy must be right and we hope to be able to help shape the strategy in the coming months.
RSS Chief Executive Stian Westlake said: 'The RSS welcomes the development of a national AI strategy, but it is important that the views of practitioners are represented in the process. With our strong Data Science Section, the RSS is uniquely placed to access the perspective of practitioners and there is a vital role for us to play in ensuring that this is represented as the strategy develops.'