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Tony Blair: AI Will “Turbocharge Growth” in the UK, Urges New PM Starmer to Embrace the Revolution

Last Updated 1 min ago
Eddie Mitchell
Last Updated 1 min ago
Key Takeaways
  • Tony Blair has called upon the Labour government to “harness” AI for the benefit of the country.
  • The former PM has also called for digital IDs to handle immigration challenges.
  • The Tony Blair Institution for Global Change regularly advocates for AI technologies at the public sector level.

Former UK Prime Minister (PM) Tony Blair has written a lengthy opinion piece urging for the UK and Keir Starmer to “fully embrace” artificial intelligence (AI).

According to Blair, AI can and will overhaul public sector services, upgrade education, and ultimately transform the entire country, though only if they “have the imagination to harness it”.

Embrace AI

In an article  for The Times, former UK PM Tony Blair urged the nation’s new leader to fully embrace AI technology and “turbocharge growth” in the UK.

According to Blair, the UK needs to kickstart its economic growth to remedy its dwindling infrastructure, troubled housing market, and the negative impacts of a post-Brexit trade deal.

“For this reason, I don’t think there has ever been a better or more exciting time to be governing.”

Looking at how AI has spread significantly through the private sector, Blair believes that government-backed AI advocacy is “the only answer” to the UK’s “productivity challenge”.

Bullish on AI, he notes that its implementation in the public sector can have hugely positive impacts on the nation’s healthcare system, and education. He notes that at every level, AI is able to cut costs, improve standards, and promote growth, and overhaul government processes.

“But it is a fact. Actually, this 21st-century technological revolution is the real-world fact that will change everything. The question is whether we have the imagination to harness it. The companies and countries that do will prosper, and those that don’t will fall behind.”

His opinion piece also advocated for digital IDs, a concept that has been a point of contention for many years.

Digital IDs & Immigration

As part of his lengthy opinion piece, Blair outlined his concerns about immigration , and suggested a “tough” new approach to the rule of law, noting “[…]if we don’t have rules, we get prejudices”.

Blair seems to think that a compulsory digital ID card would be one of the best solutions to the immigration ‘problem’. He claims that the world “is moving toward” digital IDs and that such a system would allow authorities to “precisely” know who was legally allowed to be in the country.

This has drawn scrutiny. Blair, who had attempted to implement digital IDs during his time as PM, was also running a government that oversaw one of the most significant  periods of immigration in UK history, making his latest statements rather contradictory.

UK AI Advocacy

Notably, Blair’s very own non-profit organization, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), recently released a guide paper titled “Governing in the Age of AI: The Leader’s Guide to Artificial-Intelligence Technical Strategy” in partnership with SandboxAQ.

The guide, which comes in response to requests from government leaders to create a “clear playbook” for AI implementation across the public sector, comes just in time for Blair’s lengthy AI piece.

Notably, Blair’s AI presence seems to be heightened as the TBI prepares for an AI-centric conversation at its “Future of Britain” conference on July 9, 2024.

To the skeptics and cynics, this is a clear indication that the former PM is working with, or has been lobbied by, the AI industry.

Regardless, Blair praises the Labour Party for its recent historic victory and says that its majority government now has a great opportunity to implement truly transformative policies.

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