British Academy responds to the Autumn Budget

22 Nov 2017

The British Academy has responded to the Autumn Budget announced this afternoon (November 22) by the Chancellor Philip Hammond. 

Of the Government's decision to invest an extra £2.3billion in research and development by 2021/22, Alun Evans, the Chief Executive of the British Academy said:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to increasing R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP, with a future increase to 3%. As the British Academy and other UK national academies have stated, the 3% target is vital to maintain the UK’s position as a destination for outstanding research in an increasingly competitive environment.

“Delivering the innovation that the Prime Minister is calling for today needs insights from all disciplines – from the UK’s world-leading humanities and social sciences sector as well as science, technology and engineering. The development of driverless cars, for example, will encompass questions of ethics, law, design and geography, in addition to advanced technology.

“We look forward to seeing further details in the Government’s forthcoming Industrial Strategy and working with UK Research and Innovation to ensure the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund helps to build a stronger and more productive UK.”

The Government also announced the creation of a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to enable and ensure safe, ethical and ground-breaking innovation in AI and data-driven technologies. 

Commenting on the announcement, Alun Evans said:

“In June 2017 the British Academy, in partnership with the Royal Society, issued a report on data management and its use which called for the creation of a national body to steward the evolution of the data governance landscape. We are pleased that the government is now creating a Centre for Data Ethics towards the provision of effective, transparent and responsible data governance into the future.

"Every day, the amount of data generated around the world is increasing at an astounding pace and although this data - and the technologies it enables - promises many benefits, from improving healthcare to better managing critical infrastructure, there are serious ethical questions surrounding its use.

"The arts, humanities and social sciences will be vital when it comes to establishing effective boundaries for the ethical use of data and AI and we look forward to working with the Government to this end."

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