25 May 2018

AI Lab announced at US-UK Defence Innovation Board meeting

During the very first joint US-UK Defence Innovation Board meeting Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the creation of the AI Lab, a brand new hub for artificial intelligence.

Based on the grounds of the Defence Science and Technology Facility in Porton Down, the AI Lab will centralise development of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science in the defence sector. Its mandate will be the enhancement and acceleration of AI technology with a view to alleviating many of the country’s defence and security concerns.

The meeting itself saw members of the US Defense Innovation Board – a collective of defence and industry experts – meet with their UK counterparts to share knowledge, experience and priority technologies. The American contingent included Dr Eric Schmidt, former Chair of Google; Dr J Michael McQuade, Senior Vice President for Science and Technology at United Technologies; and Sally Donnelly, former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense.

“The relationship we have with our American partners is indispensable to both our nations,” said Williamson. “In the face of evolving global threats, we must harness new technologies and approaches to stay ahead of our adversaries and keep us safe.

“Today’s meeting of military and scientific minds from both sides of the Atlantic encourages our best and brightest to develop new capabilities in everything from Artificial Intelligence and autonomous weapons to advanced cyber and robotics.”

Afterwards the Defence Secretary announced that the UK’s own Defence Innovation Board would make a reciprocal visit to the US later on in the year. This is all part of the Ministry of Defence’s wider ambition to become ‘innovative by instinct’. In doing so, the Ministry will look to expand cyber security proficiency, modernise the procurement process, embed innovation within its culture and drive technological advancement in parallel with user need.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb added: “UK defence has always been at the forefront of significant technological advances, from the development of radar systems crucial to our victory in the Battle of Britain to our Harrier jump jets which revolutionised our air capabilities in the Falkland and Iraq wars.

“The UK has invested £800 million on boosting innovation over the next decade to meet future threats. This coupled with our close working relationships with allies provides us with the opportunity to maintain our military advantage for decades to come.”

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