Not all science fiction - Frontier discusses the future of AI in publishing

Frontier’s Catherine Etienne spoke at a webinar organised by the Publishers Association to promote the launch of our report ‘People plus Machines’, exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in publishing.  

The webinar was chaired by Annie Callanan, the President of the Publishers Association and CEO of Taylor & Francis. The panel included Catherine, a co-author of the report, alongside  Claire Chapman, Head of Data at the Office for AI; and Ros Lynch, Director of Copyright and IP Enforcement from the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). 

Claire Chapman kicked off the discussion speaking about the UK Government’s AI and Data Grand Challenge and the potential for the UK to be at the forefront of the AI and data revolution.  Claire highlighted some of the work the Office of AI is doing to address the key AI investment barriers identified in Frontier’s report.For example, on skills retention, their work with the Institute of Coding and the Chartered Institute for IT to deliver the Industrial Masters programme for AI in universities, the development of Turing AI Fellowships, and their current research on the UK AI labour market. On access to data, Claire discussed their work with the Open Data Institute piloting data trusts.

Ros Lynch highlighted the status of the UK as a world leader in IP and copyright enforcement and the UK IPO’s interaction with the World Intellectual Property Office to address the global issues concerning AI and IP.  Ros detailed the UK IPO’s current call for views on AI and Intellectual Property, covering the role of patents, copyright and related rights (including the issue of exceptions to enable AI systems to make copies), designs, trade-marks and trade secrets.  Many of these issues were identified by Frontier as future areas of concern for UK publishers.

Catherine Etienne followed with a presentation of Frontier’s report for the Publishers Association. She highlighted the potential for publishers’ AI investment to release users (such as authors, students and teachers) to focus on high value-add, creative tasks and drive significant society-wide benefits such as improved academic attainment, faster rates of innovation and environmental benefits. Catherine’s talk focussed on some of the key issues that are currently hindering investment such as workplace skills, technology integration and smaller publishers’ access to finance. She discussed how the industry could work with government to overcome these, highlighting opportunities to collaborate with the UK’s world-leading AI focussed SMEs and academia, to engage with relevant programmes delivered through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and establishing legal certainty with regard to a number of issues relevant to AI and publishing.

Claire, Ros and Catherine then responded to diverse and interesting questions from attendees including ensuring IP protection in future trade agreements, where we are seeing the most interesting R&D activity relevant to AI in publishing, and how London and the UK can retain its position as a top place in the world for AI.

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