In response to a written question lodged by Kenneth Gibson MSP, the SNP Government has confirmed it was not consulted by the UK Tory Government until the very last stage just before the Artificial Intelligence Sector Deal was published on 26 April of this year.
The deal, struck between the UK Government and the European, US and Japanese tech sector, pledges to invest £1 billion to drive AI research in the UK.
In her response dated 31 July, Scottish Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes MSP furthermore confirmed that “a number of relatively small changes were made as a result to reflect Scotland's strengths in AI and data”.
SNP Government officials and stakeholders then met with officials from the recently established UK Office of AI on 5 July 2018 to ensure that Scotland's research and industry strengths in Artificial Intelligence (AI) were fully recognised and to press the case for greater involvement in the delivery of the Sector Deal and the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge on AI and Data.
The SNP Government continues to press the UK Government for earlier and more meaningful engagement in all sector deals.
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Once again, the UK Tory Government has made it clear that as far as the UK is concerned, Scotland and its needs are a mere afterthought.
“The AI Sector Deal is about a £1 billion investment in AI and the fact that the SNP Government was not allowed to deliver input until planning had reached its end stage, tells you exactly how much the Tories are planning to invest in Scotland.
“Like it or loathe it, AI is expected to have a massive impact on the future of Scotland, its jobs and economy. In addition, Scotland is world-renowned for punching well above its weight in technology, research and innovation. For the UK Tory Government to be so dismissive of the part we have to play in it is unacceptable and the SNP Government is right to be on its case at every stage.”