UK government backs A.I. and data analytics projects with $16.8 million in funding

Key Points
  • Business secretary Greg Clark says that AI and data are "transforming industries across the world."
  • Projects to receive funding include a "bot" that will use AI to offer answers to legal questions online.
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The U.K. has announced £13 million ($16.8 million) in funding for 40 artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics projects.

In an announcement at the end of last week, the government said that the investment would "support collaborative industry and research projects to develop the next-generation of professional services."

Projects to receive funding include a "bot" that will use AI to offer answers to legal questions online and AI software that will analyse accounting data before suggesting ways that businesses can cut their spending through deals on water, gas and electricity bills.

Another project will use AI and voice recognition technology to "detect and interpret emotion and linguistics to assess the credibility of insurance claims."

Business secretary Greg Clark said that AI and data were "transforming industries across the world."

"We are combining our unique heritage in AI with our world beating professional services to put the U.K. at the forefront of these cutting-edge technologies and their application," he added.

The topic of AI and its potential ramifications generates a great deal of debate and discussion. Last month, a CNBC-moderated panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, looked at the topic.

According to one participant in the discussion, chaired by CNBC's Steve Sedgwick, we're still "way, way behind having thinking robots … that will do the work of humans."

"The key about AI is data," Christopher A. Pissarides, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, went on to explain. "You need to have very large amounts of data with AI, and then it's programmed to interpret the data in certain ways."

Using chess as an example, Pissarides said computers were "very good" at the game because there were masses of data on moves from the past. "But anything new, anything that you need to stretch the way you are thinking about something, it (AI) won't be able to do," he added.

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