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Artificial Intelligence

Volume 643: debated on Thursday 21 June 2018

8. What steps his Department is taking to support the artificial intelligence sector throughout the UK. (905969)

The UK has a world-class ecosystem for AI, and the Government are determined to maintain our position at the forefront of those technologies. That is why we published a sector deal in April, bringing together Government, industry and academia to provide almost £1 billion of investment to support growth in that sector.

The growing use of AI and big data can help Britain to lead the fourth industrial revolution. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that the benefits of those technologies are felt by people, communities and businesses across the entire country?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on all his work in this area. We have a full agenda following the publication of the sector deal, which will ensure that the benefits of AI are effected across the country. Tech Nation now has an AI programme that will support ecosystems across the country.

If we are to be a world leader in AI, we will need more computer scientists. This week, Roehampton University reported on the total collapse in the number of students studying ICT at GSCE level. Will the Minister set out her target for the number of students studying technology over the next year, and say what she will do to ensure that more girls in particular study ICT, because that is where the collapse is worst?

I very much share the right hon. Gentleman’s concerns. We must encourage girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths, not just computer science, and programmes have been designed to do just that. We have made progress by making computer science mandatory in schools, which is a good first step. I am sure we will build on that, and recover the lost students at GSCE level to which the right hon. Gentleman rightly refers.