A survey of 2,000 Britons commissioned by KPMG shows the NHS could play a key role in securing the UK’s ambition to remain a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI).
In the survey, 51% of those polled said they were worried about data privacy, and a majority of people said they wouldn’t share their personal data with the UK’s biggest organisations for AI purposes. However, there was one exception: 56% said they would be happy to share their personal data with the NHS if it led to improved service.
This was in stark contrast with those willing to share their personal data with organisations such as pharmaceutical companies (15%), charities (11%), media companies (8%), internet companies (8%) and political organisations (7%). In terms of willingness to share personal data for AI, the NHS scored ahead of organisations such as banks (47%), the police (33%), and the government (22%).
A KPMG UK report, published today, entitled “How the UK can win the AI race” has been welcomed by Business Secretary Greg Clark as providing “valuable insight into how people want their data to be used.”
“This report reflects my belief that the UK can lead the world in AI and data. We have set the ambition through our Grand Challenge and through the work we are doing to ensure that AI is inclusive and enabling to all. The UK has fantastic foundations for AI to flourish.”
The new report makes five recommendations:
1) A national debate on the realities of AI.
2) Formalising the UK’s data regulation systems for AI.
3) Establishing a ‘British Standard of Trust’ – a kite-mark for AI and data security.
4) Establishing ‘Data Innovation Zones’ where developers are given access to anonymised health data.
5) Addressing the AI skills gap by digital upskilling in schools, a culture of life-long learning and greater recognition for subjects beyond STEM.
On the AI opportunity the Business Secretary said: “AI and big data is changing the world we live in and we are determined to reap the benefits of our unmatched heritage and excellence in the UK, dating back to Alan Turing. Through our modern Industrial Strategy and our Artificial Intelligence and Data Grand Challenge we want to harness this technology to transform how we diagnose disease, speed up treatment and help people live longer, healthier lives, with the ambition of around 20,000 fewer people dying within 5 years of their cancer diagnosis in 2030 compared to today.
“Through our landmark AI Sector Deal the government is establishing the world’s first Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to advise on the ethical use of data, including for AI, to make sure we not only lead the world in AI and data, but have people’s trust as we do it.”
In the survey 53% of people said they believe artificial intelligence will have a positive impact on the NHS (10% said negative). The steps most likely to motivate people to share their personal data with the NHS were to improve the quality of diagnosis and if the NHS took steps to ensure data is kept safe and secure. 54% of people think the potential benefits of giving their personal data to the NHS outweigh the potential risks (9% disagree).
Speaking ahead of the Health and Care Innovation Expo on Wednesday, James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG UK said:
“The NHS is the one area of many people’s lives where their scepticism of artificial intelligence and data security is overcome. This could make the data held by the NHS a national asset capable of catapulting the UK’s AI development potential forward. The public are receptive to more artificial intelligence in the NHS and this could lead to breakthroughs in patient care and how AI is regarded by UK business more generally.”
Urging the UK to act now on artificial intelligence, Sue Daley, techUK’s Head of AI warned that, “we must keep pace if the UK is to remain at the forefront in the development and application of AI technologies.”
In the survey 59% of Brits said there should be more government regulation on new technologies such as artificial intelligence (6% said there should be less). When asked ‘Which of the following areas do you think will be the greatest problem with artificial intelligence?’ the top answer was: Data privacy and security.