SCOTLAND’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence (AI) – The Data Lab – is to lead the co-ordination of a new nationwide strategy to drive the use of AI to improve people’s wellbeing and unlock a potential £13 billion in additional economic output.

The Data Lab’s appointment, made by the Scottish Government, has seen a steering committee appointed to guide the strategy’s development.

It will be created with benefit to the citizen as its core guiding principle and will align with the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework aims to improve citizen wellbeing and provide opportunities for all to thrive.

Development of the strategy will be open and transparent, to ensure that as many people as possible are given the chance to contribute to its development.

The process aims to ensure that AI is relatable to everyone and will consider its potential to improve the lives of people across Scotland by unlocking social and economic benefits.

Acting as an impartial convenor, The Data Lab will oversee the process which will include the steering committee, chaired by Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes, and a series of working groups. The steering committee comprises 15 members from representative bodies across Scotland, and will work through a phased programme culminating in the strategy launch next September, alongside the Programme for Government.

One of the committee’s first tasks will be to develop a scoping document, which will then be released for open consultation early next year.

There will be a range of opportunities for the people of Scotland to have their say in the process and a comprehensive stakeholder engagement programme will be designed and delivered by the Democratic Society. Six working groups will focus on set themes, such as public services, ethics and government and education and engagement; with participants working on key priorities for each theme that will feed into the final strategy.

Open invitations to join these working groups will be announced at the beginning of 2020.

Forbes said: “Scotland is well-placed to harness the potential of artificial intelligence to benefit our citizens, economy, public services and society. I look forward to working with The Data Lab and others to produce a strategy that sets out our ambitions, principles and priorities and helps us to use AI to the advantage of Scotland and its people.”

The Data Lab CEO, Gillian Docherty, said: “As an organisation, we completely align ourselves with the Government’s vision of ensuring the future AI strategy has Scotland’s people at its very core.

“Throughout the development stages, we are committed to making sure that people’s voices are heard and that their opinions, beliefs and priorities make up the fabric of the strategy. The creation of such a strategy shows once again that Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in the fields of data science and artificial intelligence, but that importantly, we don’t lose sight of what’s important to our citizens in the process.”