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CBI Scotland tackles opportunities and challenges of AI and automation in the data economy

In October, Scottish Government Minister Ivan McKee visited the University of Edinburgh’s new Bayes Centre for an event with CBI Scotland.

CBI members gathered for a panel discussion on the emerging role of AI and automation in Scotland’s economy.

Experts from academia, government and the private sector discussed the potential of data science and artificial intelligence to revolutionise workplaces across Scotland’s business community.

Talks centred on the positive contribution automation can make to productivity and the need to ensure Scotland takes a partnership approach to technological change in the workplace involving consultation between employers, workers and other stakeholders.

CBI Scotland Director Tracy Black said: “We’re delighted to be working with partners in business, government and the education sector to promote a real culture of innovation here in Scotland. By better understanding how data science and artificial intelligence can transform business offerings, we can put Scottish companies on the front foot when it comes to outcompeting their international rivals.

“Today’s event is a great opportunity to showcase the brilliant initiatives being undertaken by Edinburgh University and some of Scotland’s most forward-thinking companies. But while there are huge positives to the technology revolution, we must deal sensitively with how that will impact workplaces. We need to both understand the opportunities and risks, while ensuring that a culture of adoption is matched with a strategy for embedding good practice.”

The Bayes Centre is the first of five ‘data innovation hubs’ being created as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, to foster closer collaboration between industry and academia.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice-Principal, University of Edinburgh, said: “Today’s event comes as the University embarks on an ambitious set of industry engagement targets through our involvement in the City Region Deal. Working with partners, we aim to increase data skills within the workforce and tackle challenges across industry and society through data-driven innovation.

“It’s vitally important that we discuss the opportunities and challenges of AI and automation in the emerging data economy, so I’m delighted to host CBI Scotland in our new Bayes Centre, where much of our data-driven innovation activity will take place.”

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation said: “Scotland is well placed to be a global leader in the development of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies. These emerging trends present exciting opportunities for Scotland and can be a key driver for growth and productivity.”