In fair Verona… 

I was recently honoured to be invited (by the Confederation of British Industry) to attend the Group of 7 (G7) Industry, Tech and Digital 2024 conference in beautiful Verona, Italy. I was asked to contribute as part of the assembled B7 experts developing and, more importantly (in my opinion), deploying and managing Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions that address commercial and governmental services which impact our global society and citizenry.  

For those that aren’t aware, the B7 is an industry group of commercial organisations from each of the G7 countries that collaborates to provide inputs and steering for ministers to consider and debate in the G7 global conference. In 2024, Italy own the G7 hosting rights, and some fantastic insights were shared on how Italy is investing heavily in technology which can help accelerate innovation in Europe and beyond. Ministers from each G7 nation discussed AI accelerated Digital Transformation in industry but with a very strong focus on how AI provides increased opportunity, and also risk, which must be managed and controlled.  This June the G7 will return to Italy to pick up the debate at the Leaders Summit in Apulia.

To be present and contribute to the debate on the day that EU Parliament approved the adoption of the EU AI Act was a true honour for me personally, and something I’m very proud of. But no one achieves anything alone, and this invite is a result of the fantastic work delivered by so many in Version 1 (working with all the major AI technology vendor technologies alongside AWS and Microsoft most notably) which is making a tangible societal and commercial difference for our customers.  

Setting the scene at the G7 Industry, Tech, and Digital Conference 2024, in Verona.

Context of the debate  

Very early on it was accepted that the debate should be focused on the opportunities of AI and the vast positive impact this technology can have on the world. It was also acknowledged that there were significant developments still in play – the EU AI Act only progressed that day and the recent Executive Order in place in the US – as well as the significant progress that many other nations had underway regarding guidance on controlling and governing risk.  The opening statement of the debate captured this focus well, “AI is the Transformational Catalyst for this era”.   

Picture of man
Version 1 CTO Brad Mallard was invited to be a part of the G7 Industry, Tech and Digital 2024 conference in Verona.

Harnessing the potential 

One of the most exciting themes of the event, and something I frequently consider, is the truly remarkable potential of AI and technology to make the world a better place. But with great power comes great responsibility, as the old line goes, and navigating this new fronter will of course require careful, responsible consideration to risk, security and ethics.   

It was also proposed that we might need to think beyond AI and embrace other technologies that are the basis of successful organisations and Government departments of the future.  These include Robotics, Cloud, Transformative Connectivity (5G/6G and Space connecting everywhere on earth amongst others), Quantum as this becomes more stable, Spatial Computing and Human Connected Technologies (or Augmented Individuals as one leader described it). All of which will have some very close relation to or be driven by increasingly powerful Traditional AI and Generative AI platforms.  

Paradigm shift 

We are transitioning from an information age to one of individual augmentation with powerful technology, knowledge and insight.  AI should probably be thought of today as Augmented Intelligence rather than Artificial Intelligence.  We will soon be in a world that really stretches this boundary with the potential of super intelligence to be accessible to all through augmented devices.  This could stem from today’s familiar technology such as phones or other wearables, most likely a projection device to your hand, glasses or earpiece similar to what you may have seen in films such as ‘Her’ (which is worth a (re)watch for an interesting spin on the world of AI and how this could evolve in our daily lives).  

As a technology community, and this includes most organisations now as AI will be empowering just about everything, we must make AI easy to use but also safe, responsible and trustworthy.  This won’t happen overnight as trust takes time to build but demonstrating adherence to the growing number of AI policies/regulations and guidelines will be critical for building that credibility.    

We can expect to see increasing and evolving guidance on not only how technology is responsibly developed and architected but also the use cases being deployed to solve problems and be protected from the stringent fines or reputational damage of getting this wrong.  Working with experts who have deployed and developed solutions with a strong focus on sustainability is today’s best answer to ensuing success.  Unless you invest heavily in your own AI lab or research teams to provide you this coverage, this often not being possible in all but the biggest of organisations.  Shameless plug, Version 1 and our teams of experts can help if you are not sure where to go. 

The future is bright 

One of the areas that was touched on all too briefly was the potential for AI to help rebalance and address the digital divide and being inclusive irrelevant of age, gender, race, identity, cultures and language. The application of AI to simplify the mechanisms of engagement for people currently struggling to do the basics in things like governmental services (since these have gone online) and are too hard to navigate can get so much easier.  That’s a gamechanger. 

Imagine being able to navigate simple conversational experiences through voice, device or different modalities. With the right designed experiences in place and well-trained or tuned models this is a relatively simple and quick progression forward.  We have seen so much good from our engagements around the use of hyper-personalised digital channels to support neurodivergent individuals, dyslexics, and the use of native language for engagement for asylum seekers or others as example of these.  For an example of this, check out the work we did at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park. 

Overall, my trip and involvement as part of the CBI UK party to the B7, as well as being able to meet and provide input to the upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit, was nothing short of incredible.  A huge thank you to those who made that happen.  

I hope this recap was both useful and interesting. I wanted to share my experience in an attempt to democratise what was a very unique, very insightful experience from my time supporting the B7 and G7 AI industry transformation discussions.  

Thank you for taking the time to read. 

Talk to us