Margot James – 2019 Speech on Safer Internet Day

Below is the text of the speech made by Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, on 5 February 2019.

Thank you for inviting me to this year’s Safer Internet Day event. I’m thrilled to be here at the BT Centre, and I would like to congratulate the UK Safer Internet Centre on coordinating a highly successful campaign which sees hundreds of organisations get involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. This event is celebrated in over 100 countries and is one of the many Safer Internet Day activities happening all over the UK.

I’m very encouraged to see so many young people here today in this auditorium. It is crucial that we in government, as we make policy, learn from young people about their experiences online. Digital technology and social media enable young people to access educational resources, make social connections, build relationships and demonstrate creativity.

As the use of technology has grown, it has impacted every area of our lives. Planning a journey, checking your bank balance, organising campaigns, sharing photos, listening to music – all daily tasks that so many of us now complete online. And I know that many of the students here today are passionate about how technology benefits their everyday lives. I share that passion.

But we also know that a lot of young people are worried about what they see or experience online.

I’m looking forward to speaking with students from Dundonald Primary School, Kaizen Primary School, Viridis Schools Federation, Dr Challoner’s High School, Mayfield School, Sarah Bonnell School and Brooke School. I’m particularly interested in hearing about their experiences online and seeing what they have prepared for this year’s Safer Internet Day.

I’m aware that many of you are Digital Leaders in your schools and I’d like to thank you for the contribution you make to Safer Internet Day, and extend my congratulations for all the hard work you have carried out at your schools to help ensure that your peers are well informed about how to stay safe online. The exhibitions you have been preparing are focussing on consent online. The theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day.

Consent has been much in the news of late. A New York Times investigation has just found that the information being collected about us through apps on our smartphones is far more extensive than most of us imagine or are aware we have consented to.

Last year the government made sweeping changes to the Data Protection regime and gave citizens new powers over their data. Consent, the theme of Internet Safety Day, must now be freely given, clear, unambiguous and fair. That’s really important.

This legislation is not before time. Last week it was reported that Facebook have been paying users as young as 13 to download a Facebook Research app in contravention of Apple’s strict privacy rules. This app allowed Facebook to look at users browsing history and other network data by requiring users to install a “root certificate” – this certification enabled Facebook to decrypt those users browsing history including messages they sent, what apps they used and for how long, to amass a very rich data set in order to sell ever more targeted advertising.

Apple responded by pulling the offending App and standing up for our privacy rights; they are among many voices in the States calling for similar privacy laws to the GDPR, that we have in Europe, to be enacted in the United States.

Online safety is a top priority for the Government and we want to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. We will soon be publishing an Online Harms White Paper which will set out clear expectations for companies to help keep their users, particularly children, safe online.

Internet companies have always enjoyed legal protection from liability for user generated content. This laissez faire environment has led some companies to pursue growth and profitability with little regard for the security and interests of their users. There is far too much bullying, abuse, misinformation and manipulation online as well as serious and organised crime online.

For too long the response from many of the large platforms has fallen short. There have been no fewer than fifteen voluntary codes of practice agreed with platforms since 2008. Where we are now is an absolute indictment of a system that has relied far too little on the rule of law.

The White Paper, which DCMS are producing with the Home Office, will be followed by a consultation over the summer and will set out new legislative measures to ensure that the platforms remove illegal content and prioritise the protection of users, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults.

It will also include ambitious measures to support continued education and awareness for all users and to promote the development and adoption of new safety technologies. We want to get to a place where we can enjoy the huge benefits of new technology has to offer, without our children, and other vulnerable individuals, being put at risk of serious harm.

So Engagement with industry, charities, peers and academia sits at the heart of our approach. And back in November 2017, with thanks to the UK Safer Internet Centre, we were able to talk and listen directly to many young people, some of whom I believe are back here again today in this room. The conversations we had are helping us to develop world leading laws as well as other measures to make sure that the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.

In developing the White Paper we have continued to engage with a wide range of organisations. And I am grateful to those organisations, including Childnet and the Internet Watch Foundation that are part of the executive board of the UK Council for Internet Safety, which I co-chair with Ministers from the Department for Education and the Home Office. The Council does hugely important work, bringing together expertise from a range of organisations in the tech industry, civil society and public sector to collaborate and coordinate a UK-wide approach to improving internet safety. It’s great to see that a similarly collaborative approach lies at the heart of Safer Internet Day.

Let me repeat my thanks to The UK Safer Internet Centre for inviting me along today. I look forward to hearing more of your ideas about what more needs to done to help keep everyone safe online, and today is a timely reminder of the work ahead.

The government is determined to act so that we can all enjoy the huge benefits of new technology, without our children, and other vulnerable individuals, being put at risk of serious harm.

Margot James – 2019 Speech on Audience of the Future Launch

Below is the text of the speech made by Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, on 10 January 2019.

I am delighted to be here at Unit 6, a showcase of the UK’s world leading contemporary art. Contemporary art is at the cutting edge. Its practitioners are always innovating and engaging people in new ways. So it is fitting that we’re here today to launch the ‘Audience of the Future’ demonstrators, which will be doing the same.

Imagine being inside the world of a Shakespeare play, or in a video game as professional players battle it out for millions of dollars, or immersed in a national museum, solving a detective narrative involving dinosaurs and robots with fellow virtual museum-goers.

These are only some of the experiences that will be afforded to everyone by immersive technology. The number of possibilities is only set to grow with the rate of technological change and our creative expertise.

It is estimated that by 2023 the global immersive technology market will be worth between $95 billion and $105 billion. In the UK, we have around 1,000 companies specialising in immersive, generating £660 million in sales. I have a feeling these predictions will turn out to be underestimates.

With our world-class creative businesses, researchers and technologists, and our expertise in arts, design, and computer science, Government has seen the opportunity for the UK to establish itself as the world’s most innovative economy.

The Industrial Strategy includes a range of measures to improve our ability to turn new ideas into commercial products – including investing £725m in new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes.

The Creative Industries Sector Deal was announced in March 2018 and leverages £72 million of this funding to support creative innovation – with a further £50 million being committed by industry.

The Audience of the Future Demonstrators programme is a key part of this Deal, backed by £16 million of Government Industrial Strategy Challenge Funding and £6 million from industry.

The programme will bring together globally renowned intellectual property, storytellers and technology companies to explore and pioneer cutting-edge immersive experiences.

Today, I’m delighted announce the winning Demonstrators for three areas which UKRI have identified as having major opportunities to grow new audiences through immersive technology:

In Performance, the Demonstrator will be led by the Royal Shakespeare Company and involve 15 specialist immersive organisations from theatre, music, video production, gaming and research.

They will explore what it means to perform live, and use emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.

Using devices such as mobile phones, extended reality headsets and streams into live performance environments, or even in the home, audiences will experience live performance like never before.

In the field of Visitor Experience, the demonstrator will be a pioneering collaboration led by Factory 42 and involving the National History Museum and the Science Museum that will bring dinosaurs and robots to life by placing audiences in new worlds and giving them the ability to interact with them.

Two multi-sensory and interactive worlds will be created in the iconic rooms of the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, combining mixed reality technology and immersive theatre.

Finally, the Sports Entertainment Demonstrator will focus on esports – which has the fastest growing global live sports audience. The consortium will include ESL, the largest esports content producer in the world, as well as leading academics and innovators across immersive technologies, data-driven content production and broadcast.

This demonstrator will produce a new platform called Weavr to leverage the data-rich environment of esports and transform how the hundreds of millions of remote esports viewers can use virtual to reality to experience esports. Further down the line, Weavr could even change how we play physical sports.

So I would like to offer my congratulations to the winning Demonstrators. I have every confidence that you will build incredible experiences that will change the way we engage with art, theatre, sports and more.

One of the greatest privileges of the job I do is getting to experience the cutting edge. The experiences are truly transformative, and the more people we can bring them to, the faster we will build the market and the faster we will build more world-leading businesses.

I am thrilled that we here in the UK are able to lead the world on immersive experiences. I’m excited to see what you all do.

Margot James – 2018 Speech at Government Innovation Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, at the Government Innovation Conference held on 27 November 2018.

May I say what a wonderful venue we are in today.

My predecessor in the role of Minister of State for Digital and Creative Industries – Matt Hancock – told the House of Lords AI Committee last year that there is ‘a need in government for people who are at the vanguard…champions for the technology…alongside people who know the ins and outs of policy.’

I look around the room today and am delighted to see people all around government departments who are ‘in the vanguard’.

Since then, there has been a report from that Committee, a government response that I delivered with my colleague Sam Gyimah, and a debate – where it was stated that Departments themselves need to understand AI better.

The same goes for Ministers by the way.

We need to take those ideas from the vanguard, and make them mainstream for Departments across government.

And there is already great work being done in government.

The Department for Transport runs DfT Lab – which develops proofs-of-concept in agile 6-week sprints. They have used machine learning to identify road freight from satellite imagery in locations where there aren’t cameras, and built a system to optimise transport patterns of the future.

The DWP are using AI to crack down on large-scale benefits fraud. Their system uses algorithms to reveal fake identity cloning techniques that are common among criminal gangs.

The Home Office and ASI Data Science worked together to develop technology which can automatically detect terrorist video propaganda on any online platform, so that the majority of this content could be prevented before it ever reaches the internet.

And I hope that same technology can be used in the fight against child abuse images online.

A year ago the UK topped Oxford Insights’ Government AI readiness index – indicating we are the best-placed OECD country to implement AI in public service delivery, thanks to your great work on data, on fostering a vibrant environment for startups, and on the digitalisation of government.

So today is very important. All of us, collectively, need to share with each other what we are doing.

That means government working together with industry to seize the prize of a reported additional £232bn by 2030 – 10% of GDP.

And it’s not all about economic value, but also the benefits it brings to individuals and families – from healthcare, to improving road safety.

Earlier this year government and industry collectively committed to nearly £1bn of investment in the Industrial Strategy AI Sector Deal.

Tabitha Goldstaub – who chairs the AI Council – is here today. The Council will have the important task of making sure that Sector Deal delivers. It’s important that we mention this today – not just because it’s about AI – but because it’s the one year anniversary of the Industrial Strategy this week.

I was very proud as Business Minister to have had a part in developing it, and I’d like to pay tribute to my former boss, Greg Clark, an outstanding Secretary of State – who lives and breathes the Industrial Strategy and has really developed it so well.

That £1bn is intended to kickstart how we address the Grand Challenge on AI and Data – to remain at the forefront of this revolution.

To address the Grand Challenge, the whole of government, industry and civil society will need to work together.

Artificial Intelligence holds the promise to transform productivity. The government has set the ambition to place the UK at the forefront of AI in its Industrial Strategy. We should also seek to seize this opportunity for public service to become more efficient and effective.

To do so, the recent Budget initialised a review across government to understand where the biggest potential lies for adoption of these new technologies, to identify where combined investment can yield the greatest benefit.

It will be led by the Office for Artificial Intelligence – a joint unit between DCMS and BEIS – working with the Government Digital Service.

We established the Office for AI earlier this year following last year’s AI review led by Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti.

The Office for AI exists to be a central hub of policy expertise in AI across government. It delivers against commitments made in the Sector Deal around increasing access to data for AI startups, improving AI skills provision for the workforce, and driving adoption through missions and by other targeted means – all of which contribute to addressing the Grand Challenge on remaining at the forefront of the AI and Data revolution.

So, today I’d like us to focus on the role data has in creating opportunities for AI. But equally important is driving adoption of AI and upskilling our workforce, to be able to use data and AI better.

I’ll begin with adoption of AI.

The full benefits for society and the economy that can come from AI can only be realised if it is widely used.

We have used a Mission-driven approach to set out an aspiration to drive adoption of AI. Earlier this year we announced how we would use AI to improve the early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases, which pulls together effort across DCMS, BEIS and DHSC, the NHS, private sector and civil society.

I’m so proud that the first Mission we announced was to deliver a transformation in the diagnosis of chronic diseases by Artificial Intelligence up to 2030.

Cancer Research UK estimates that by 2033, if late stage diagnosis were reduced by 50% across four common cancers 56,500 more people diagnosed would be diagnosed at an early stage, resulting in 22,500 fewer deaths within 5 years of diagnosis, per year.

It’s important to realise that’s not just an extra five years, but for many people they could have as much longer as if they’d not had the disease.

It’s important to work with the expertise we have in government and the wider public sector to embed a culture of being intelligent customers when it comes to AI in public service delivery. We have engaged Office for National Statistics’ Data Science Campus and GDS to help us do this.

DCMS has also seconded an official to work as a researcher at the World Economic Forum’s San Francisco-based Center for the 4th Industrial Revolution towards a framework for responsible public procurement of AI. This is intended to mesh with the Data Ethics Framework which has a new home in DCMS after moving from GDS and provide a set of steps a decision maker could follow to decide on how to best implement AI solutions. The team is also working to ensure everyone benefits from the opportunities presented by AI, to ensure that businesses have access to the AI talent they need to operate, and in order to support and drive economic growth.

This currently involves the development of a new industry funded AI Masters programme, beginning with around 200 new AI Masters students in 2019 with expansion of this talent pipeline continuing year-on-year.

In addition it involves work to attract, recruit and retain world-leading talent by creating a fellowship programme that is globally respected and attractive for researchers around the world to congregate in the UK – recognised with £50m of funding that was announced in the Budget.

We are also supporting work towards an additional 200 PhD places in AI and related disciplines a year by 2020 to 2021. By 2025, we will have at least 1,000 government supported PhD places in AI at any one time.

Our work is in partnership with employers and universities, through our UK AI Skills Champion Dame Wendy Hall and the AI Council.

We are committed to increasing diversity in the AI workforce to ensure that everyone with the potential to participate has the opportunity to do so and will support upskilling, reskilling and lifelong learning to reach our aims.

That’s why we doubled the number of Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000 to attract the brightest and best to live and work in the UK as well as training our own population.

Now, onto data.

There has been a huge programme of work in recent years to make sure we are promoting the open and transparent use of data.

This goes back at least 10 years.

In the government we are in a privileged position, as we collect a vast quantity of untapped data as part of the services we run.

And as the UK moves rapidly towards a data driven economy, it means that we have a real opportunity to make the most of this.

The government has already published over 44,000 datasets on data.gov.uk. This unprecedented level of openness has created so many benefits.

This is one of several reasons we ranked top of Oxford Insights’ Analysis last year.

We believe that innovation with data requires public trust. That’s why government has established the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation as another key part of addressing the Grand Challenge on AI and Data, the board of which was announced just last week – they held their first meeting yesterday.

Leading public debate on this is crucial. There’s a great danger – if we get ahead of ourselves in government and industry, and allow public debate to fall behind, we fail to build the trust that is absolutely vital for the success of this endeavour. So, I think that the role of the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is absolutely crucial in building that trust.

The Centre is a world-class advisory body to make sure data and AI delivers the best possible outcomes for society, in support of its innovative and ethical use.

And that Centre will become independent – it’s our intention to put it on a statutory, independent footing, as soon as we can get the necessary legislation in train.

Innovation and ethics are not mutually exclusive. The Centre will work to deliver innovation with data, as well as ensuring its use – including for AI – is ethical.

Data is a critical part of our national digital infrastructure – and fundamental to AI. It enables all kinds of services we use everyday from maps on our smartphones, to social media and payment processes. Without access to good quality data from a range of sources, AI technologies cannot deliver on their promise of better, more efficient and seamless services.

Government is committed to opening up more data in a way that makes it reusable and easily accessible.

However, of course not all data can, or should, be made open.

Organisations looking to access or share data can often face a range of barriers, from trust and cultural concerns to practical and legal obstacles.

It is extremely important that we address these.

Last week, it was announced at the ODI Summit that ‘the Office for AI will work with the Open Data Institute to run a number of pilot data trusts – frameworks to enable safe, fair and ethical data sharing between organisations to solve common problems and bring societal and economic benefit.

The Office for AI is working with the ODI to identify potential pilots – including unlocking sales data towards facilitating a circular economy by making packaging recycling more efficient, and around using data to bolster conservation efforts, among other examples.

The ODI are also working on a further pilot project to prototype a data trust with the Mayor of London and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. City Hall is working on data trusts as part of its Smarter London Together Roadmap to support AI and protect ‘privacy by design’ for Londoners.

This Greenwich project will focus on real time data from the Internet of Things, and will investigate how this data could be shared with innovators in the technology sector to create solutions to city challenges. Our ultimate aim is that Data Trusts encourage data sharing where it is not currently happening to deliver economic and societal benefit.

Finally, onto the AI Council.

Work is under way developing the AI Council, following the announcement of Chair Tabitha Goldstaub earlier this year – and Tabitha, we’re very grateful to you for the work you’ve put in to get the AI Council almost up to launch, and also to Skills Champion Professor Dame Wendy Hall.

The AI Council is intended to be government’s ‘way in’ to industry – a partnership body. Just as in the public sector, where Office for AI works across government to address the Grand Challenge, we need industry – with government’s help – to take on some of this task.

We want to make sure that the public sector can work hand-in-hand with the private sector to deliver more solutions that are truly transformative and revolutionise public service delivery.

That’s a really great prize.

Together, we can work drive adoption across public and industry sectors.

Margot James – 2017 Speech at ScaleUp Institute Review

Below is the text of the speech  made by Margot James, the Minister for Small Business, on 14 November 2017.

Thank you all. It is great to be here. I would like to thank our hosts. And I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the work that the ScaleUp Institute has done.

Irene Graham and Sherry Coutu are tireless advocates of scale up businesses, along with their partner organisations, many of which I can see here today.

The institute undertakes important research, spreads best practice, and provides opportunities for both public and private organisations to come together and share ideas. All of this advances our understanding of how to build an environment where small businesses can become high growth businesses. And I welcome the publication of this review as another step forward for the Institute.

Everyone in this room will know how important it is that we help people start up and grow their own businesses.

High growth businesses are vital to the economy – so the more small businesses that can make that leap from start up, to scale up – the better for our economy. And we continue to implement measures that help to make setting up a business as easy as possible.

We start from a strong position. There were a record 5.5 million private sector businesses at the start of 2016. This is an increase of nearly 100,000 since 2015 and over 1 million since 2010. This is record of success is one of the reasons that we rank third in the OECD for start-ups.

We are determined to continue that success, just as we are determined to support those business which want to scale up. To this end, we have taken serious action since 2010. British Business Bank programmes are supporting almost £3.5 billion of finance to over 56,000 smaller businesses. We have invested an additional £400 million in the British Business Bank to catalyse later stage venture capital investments by the private sector, which will unlock £1 billion of equity funding in later stage venture capital. We will work with investors to further understand the obstacles firms face accessing capital outside London and the South East.

We are supporting more companies to innovate through the UK’s R&D Tax Credits scheme. In 2014 to 2015 more than 20,000 companies, including over 18,000 SMEs, claimed nearly £2.45 billion of R&D support. We are working with high growth innovative businesses and new entrants into sectors and markets to help ensure the value these businesses bring is realised.

We want to support businesses to thrive. High growth businesses in particular make a big contribution to growth and productivity. They also create around one third to a half of all net employment growth amongst established businesses. This is one of the reasons that we want to see more high growth businesses in the UK, but to realise that ambition there is more to do on scale ups.

The OECD ranks the UK as 13th for scale ups, so we must nurture those businesses with the potential to be high growth, create an environment where they can thrive and, importantly, find them and help them at the right time.

Soon, we are going to publish our Modern Industrial Strategy. We are facing tough challenges. Growth has not been even across the UK. Prospects for people and businesses vary too much. We have world-class businesses and sectors – but some are not yet achieving their full potential.

However, great challenges offer great opportunities. Leaving the EU allows us to make fresh choices about how we shape our economy and presents an opportunity to deliver a bold, modern Industrial Strategy. One which builds on our strengths, provides certainty, and stands the test of time, creating a resilient economy ready for the future. Our strategy will enable the UK to work more productively and boost the earning power of people, businesses, places and the nation as a whole.

Key to all of this is creating an environment in which business can thrive. The UK is already a great place to start and grow a business but we want to build on this. That’s why it is one of the pillars of our Industrial Strategy. We must ensure that businesses across the UK can access the finance and skills they need to grow and we must create the right conditions for companies to invest for the long term.

As part of this, we want to help promising, growing companies to scale up. As the government’s Scale-Up Champion, I have set up a Scale-Up Task Force to look at the issues preventing businesses from taking action to grow and why those that do are not always achieving their full growth potential, whether in scale or speed.

I am delighted to see that some of the members of the Task Force are here today. I would like to thank them for the energy, enthusiasm and innovative thinking that they have brought to our discussions so far. It has been a privilege to work with this group and it has given me a renewed appreciation of just how challenging it can be for people who want to transform their businesses.

The next step will be the publication of Industrial Strategy white paper. A lot of thinking has gone into the development of this paper and not just the work of the Scale-Up Taskforce; people across the country have responded to the green paper consultation.

There is also the Patient Capital Review, considering the barriers to accessing long term finance, and the Entrepreneurship Review into how we can support businesses to start well and grow. All this work will feed into the white paper, which will reaffirm our commitment to driving business growth and productivity.

We are already a start-up nation; now, the opportunity is to become a scale-up nation. Let us continue to press on with this agenda. There is a wealth of ideas and support in this room.

Thank you once again for inviting me and for listening to me. And I congratulate the ScaleUp Institute for the publication of this review.