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First Minister commits to data and AI goals at Data Summit 2021

Data Summit
Image credit: The Data Lab

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reinforced her commitment to positioning Scotland as a world leader in data and AI at The Data Lab’s Data Summit in Edinburgh.

The First Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government was committed to the country’s tech sector, with aims of expanding the use of AI and data across the economy.

Sturgeon also stressed the importance of the ethical treatment of AI and data in the private and public sector, saying that it would be vital in informing future healthcare policy.

Data would also play an important role in fighting climate change through informed energy usage and in aiding future infrastructure investment decisions, she said.

“We are already using data in so many ways to improve decision making – saving time, money and lives. For instance, many decisions taken during the Covid crisis have been data-driven,” said Sturgeon.

“It will continue to inform our decisions as we tackle some of the most challenging issues of our day – including ensuring a fair recovery from the pandemic and a just transition towards achieving our net zero ambitions.

“The core of our approach always has been, and always will be, the need to use data and AI ethically and in a way which ensures and retains public trust.”

Despite her optimism, more than 180 event delegates were polled and results were split almost evenly on whether Scotland was on track to become an ethical AI and data world leader – with 57% agreeing and 43% disagreeing.

The Data Lab’s CEO, Gillian Docherty added, “This year’s Data Summit is my last as Chief Executive of The Data Lab, and in many ways, it was our most important event to-date. The conversations that are taking place right now across the globe into the ethical uses of data will shape future society and have the potential to challenge democracy if not managed effectively – this was reinforced in our delegates poll yesterday.

“Whilst this is a global challenge, Scotland has a fantastic potential to lead the world in tackling these issues and it is an exciting time to be involved in reimagining technology’s role in society as we look ahead to the global recovery post-pandemic.”

The theme of the Data Summit this year was “Our Data”, exploring how it can be used to grow the economy, address social issues and increase Scotland’s knowledge base.

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