Sunday, July 07, 2024

Labour, growth, productivity and AI

Labour Party Manifesto was led by a single goal – GROWTH. 

Problem – easy to promise, hard promise to keep.

Yet there are two letters that got zero mention by any party in this election – AI. The evidence is clear, that significant productivity gains can be achieved using this tech. You don’t need AGI to reap the benefits, just focus on straight utility, making things faster, better and cheaper.

Despite the global shift to a digitised economy, productivity growth has been declining since the 2000s. Artificial Intelligence will drive a productivity surge that supports long-term economic growth. Excitement is growing over "generative" Artificial Intelligence, which utilizes advanced computer models to create high-quality text, images, and other content based on their training data. Many are speculating whether this technology could revolutionise labour productivity, similar to the impact of the steam engine, electricity, and the personal computer. One is Tony Blair who has said this should be the first thing a Labour government looks at.

The positive effects on productivity have always lagged behind the invention of new technologies. However, AI seems to have had immediate effects due to its rapid adoption, which is down to its:

Fremium model

Ease of use

Cross sector application

Clear efficacy

2024 is the year of broad adoption, with real productivity gains in organisation-specific tasks. Whatever the process, AI seems to significantly shorten and also increase quality of output.

Initial studies show significant product gains, as well as increases in quality, even in creative tasks. In fact, it is the sheer variety of tasks that matters.

A further advantage is as a solution to recruitment needs. In increasing productivity, less staff are needed for the same amount of work, hence growth.

We are not in the EU therefore not subject to the EU AI Act. In being more aligned with the US and having English as our language we have an advantage within Europe.  


In schools we need to encourage the use of this technology to increase:

1. Teacher productivity through automated production, teaching & marking

2. Learner productivity through the adoption of these tools in the learning process

3. Admin productivity

4. AI in all teacher training

5. Reduction in curriculum content

In tertiary education, where we have Jaqui Smith as the skills, further and higher Minister, we need:

More short transition courses

Lecturer productivity

Leaner productivity

Focussed, robust AI research

In business we need to incentivise and support the creation and growth of startups. But for startups to truly thrive, several conditions must be met:

Efficient and high-speed dissemination of technical information, including:

Open-access technical publication

Open-source software

Data available for research

Smooth movement of personnel between companies, industry and academia

Smaller equity slices by Universities

Easier access to venture capital

Application of AI in SMEs

In large organisations we need:

Good measurement and studies in productivity

Cases studies of successful implementations

Implementation across the public sector

Tax breaks for AI in companies exporting


Above all we need to stop the doom mongering. It is not that AI practitioners are exaggerating its capabilities, that mostly comes from straw manning by the media, a few well known doomsters and speculative ethicists. These people will deny most ordinary people growth and prosperity while they sit on good institutional salaries and pensions.

We have the additional problem of politicians not being tech savvy, few having technical or scientific degrees, and many grazing on media reports and old-school advisors of the same ilk.

What we need from National Government are policies that accelerate this competitive advantage. NOT create more institutes. Enough already with the quangos like Digital Catapult. They do not help. Ignore the trade quangos who write anodyne reports written by low level experts. Avoid the consultancy trough frameworks, reports and documents.


There is one man who could make a big difference here - Sir Patrick Vallance. He has a strong research background and understands the impact it will have economically. We have an opportunity here to not get entangled with the negativity of the EU and forge ahead with an economic growth model based on increased productivity and new jobs. The other Ministers have shown little in the way of innovation in policy. He has the chops to get at least some of this done.


No comments: