UK MP Alan Mak has called on the country's private sector to play its part in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as the country attempts to stay at the forefront of the global digital revolution post-Brexit.
Mak, who also works as parliamentary private secretary to the UK secretary of state for business Greg Clark MP, a noted "Remainer", said: "We're seeing an enormous shift in the amount of data available to businesses and their ability to analyze that data and use it to help them to push the boundaries of innovation and growth."
Speaking at the launch of The Fourth Industrial Revolution Report 2018, Mak said: "We are at the start of a new technological era that will transform the way we live and do business in a way not seen since the invention of the steam engine or the printing press.
"This new digital revolution will transform every sector, from financial services and manufacturing, to agri-food and energy. It will transform every sector within our economy."
Mak, who founded and chairs the 4IR All-Party Parliamentary Group at Westminster, said that the new report asked whether Britain could become a data leader in a post-Brexit world.
"My view, and the view of the British Government, is that it will and it must," Mak answered. "Embracing data is not just an option, it's absolutely vital."
As every aspect of society moves toward digitalization, Mak argued that society as a whole needs to "move away from using the term AI" and adopt a "whole economy approach".
"In the future," he stressed, "every sector of the UK economy and within the economies of every country around the world will be a tech sector.
"For our country and other countries around the world, it will mean increasing productivity, growing wages, more jobs, stronger economic growth, but above all, rising living standards."
Citing The Fourth Industrial Revolution Report 2018, Mak said that businesses were starting to take data challenges seriously, noting that key data issues were now front of mind for CEOs and board members.
The 2017 version of the report noted that no CEOs were in charge of data issues – a figure that has grown to 15% in the 2018 edition.
Mak stated, however, that businesses approaching the data revolution would require a cultural shift in management and leadership, ensuring that the workforce is brought along on the digital transformation journey.
"We have to be very frank about which roles will be carried out by machines and which tasks will be carried out by humans," he noted.
With demand for AI skills in the UK almost tripling over the last three years, according to job-searching website Indeed, Mak said that the UK government was aware that it needed to improve digital literacy across all strata of society.
"People will succeed in this revolution by being more human," Mak said, noting that the UK government was prioritizing STEM skills in schools, as well as introducing new technical-level qualification for the post-16 education sector, many courses of which have been scheduled to come online by 2020.
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