Tony Blair and William Hague are both in their 60s. Perhaps not the first call you’d expect for Britain to move with the times and “discover its place in this new world”.
their report – request Government launches ‘digital ID’ for everyone In the country – and not the first to highlight the opportunities available to the UK as a global R&D leader, the UK already has some of the world’s best universities and high-tech companies.
What’s significant about their call to action is that it comes from two former political enemies. They warned successors in government and opposition that unless they came together to embrace science and technology, they risked falling into the past.
“We risk a 20th-century fight on the fringes of tax and spending policy when the question is how we use this new revolution to reimagine the state of public service.”
Their report highlights the opportunities for reorganizing government to advance science and technology across political and public life: bringing AI technology into public services, from digital IDs to identifying NHS data as a “competing asset”; planning for reforms, prioritizing Growth of the research and development sector; and rapid introduction of latest technologies into the education system.
Much of the report, from planning reforms to embracing AI (artificial intelligence), could have been lifted directly from the current edition Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor of the exchequer, outlined a “plan for growth” in a speech in January.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers may trigger heart disease
MPs vote to pass controversial legislation to introduce voter ID
Northern Ireland Brexit deal ‘not done’, says senior Conservative MP
Indeed, the importance of a high-tech, low-carbon economy has been at the heart of the thinking of nearly every chancellor and shadow chancellor of the exchequer of late.
But none of them have shown much evidence of delivering it.
Uncertain focus on tech due to Brexit and Northern Ireland
The timing of the report is opportune.One of the biggest challenges currently facing the UK R&D sector is uncertainty following government supportBrexit.
Whether we continue to form alliances with the EU’s science funding arrangements or go it alone has been up in the air, amid debates around Northern Ireland settle down.
A fledgling £1.6bn of science funding has been returned to the Treasury from the new Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology amid ongoing uncertainty over European engagement.
That’s £1.6bn, which won’t be spent on research in the UK now. Ironically, the Blair/Hague report calls for an end to the Treasury’s “micromanagement” of R&D funding.
There is little evidence of political cooperation in Europe, let alone a technological future outside of Europe.
No matter where you get the podcast, subscribe to Sky News Daily with one click
Given the speed at which many technologies advance, artificial intelligence and genomics advancing at an almost mind-boggling rate, the policy lag is understandable.
But is the current climate giving our politicians the time and energy to lead the UK into a smarter, leaner, silicon-clad future?