A new report commissioned by Google estimates that artificial intelligence technologies could add over £400 billion to the UK economy by 2030.
The report, compiled by the consultancy Public First, analyzed how Google’s tools and services enable productivity gains, increasing access to jobs for people with disabilities and providing people with digital skills training.
Productivity Gains From AI
The analysis found that AI innovations from Google and others could save the average UK worker over 100 hours per year, the biggest gain since the advent of Google Search.
These tools help automate more tasks and workflows, freeing up workers. But many jobs will be transformed, not eliminated, by AI.
AI could save over 700,000 hours annually in administrative work for GPs and teachers. This reduction in workload could alleviate staff shortages and release over £8 billion in public sector resources for other purposes.
Improving Accessibility Through AI
AI-powered assistive technologies could help over 1 million people with disabilities in the UK join or rejoin the workforce, adding £30 billion per year to the economy. Currently, people with disabilities are a third less likely to be employed.
Assistive technologies include voice-based interfaces, predictive text, and translation tools. They can make computing more accessible.
For example, AI tools can automatically generate captions that could improve people’s ability to connect with others and regain independence.
Digital Skills Training With AI
AI tutors and coding assistants could make learning crucial digital skills easier, boosting UK productivity by £4.8 billion annually.
Around 35% of businesses need help finding candidates with strong digital skills, while 39% of unemployed say a lack of digital literacy is a barrier to getting a job.
Since 2015, Google has trained over 1 million people in the UK on digital skills through its programs.
A New Social Innovation Fund For British AI
Google.org’s Social Innovation Fund on AI will allocate £1 million worth of funding to UK-based social entrepreneurs using AI to benefit their communities.
Selected entrepreneurs will receive cash grants, mentoring, and acceleration support from Google for Startups Accelerator team.
Interested social entrepreneurs can register on the Social Tides website.
Many productivity gains and cost savings projected in Google’s report come from automating routine tasks like scheduling, data entry, and customer service queries.
Higher-level work involving reasoning, problem-solving, and creativity is harder to automate and requires human judgment.
The report focuses on the workforce but doesn’t closely examine how AI might impact specific professions, skill levels, or demographic groups differently.
Google’s social innovation fund will provide grants and support for AI projects aimed at helping communities. However, some critics argue large tech companies should do more to address societal issues their technologies may worsen or amplify, like the spread of misinformation or job insecurity.
Though the fund could drive positive change, Google’s broader responsibilities around AI remain contested.
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