As we move into the winter, PICTFOR would like to thank all of our industry members, parliamentary Vice-Chairs, and Co-Chairs for your support so far this year.
As conference season confirmed, technological innovation, security, and communications are at the top of the parliamentary agenda. PICTFOR’s role as a forum for discussion between parliamentarians, industry, academics, and other stakeholders on strategic issues facing the tech sector remains as crucial as ever, and we are grateful for your continued interest and support.
As one of the largest and most active APPGs, PICTFOR is finding innovative ways to continue providing a forum for the internet, communications and technology sectors and interested parliamentarians to communicate on pressing topics.
We will be keeping you updated on our activities in regular newsletters to further promote and engage with the tech sector as the country grapples with its economic and security challenges and the upcoming general election comes into focus.
Tech for Good, Tech For Growth Report Launch – On Tuesday 24th October from 15.00-17.00, we will be holding a reception to launch our 2023 report, Tech for Good; Tech for Growth. Speakers include Paul Scully MP, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Alex Davies Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, and Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Science, Research, and Innovation. The event will be hosted by PICTFOR Vice-Chair Carol Monaghan, the SNP Science, Innovation, Technology and Education spokesperson.
The report will be split into themes detailing the various community benefit and Tech for Good programmes currently being delivered by PICTFOR members and the wider tech community – and Tech for Growth, a suite of activity and proposed activity which should be prioritised by the UK Government in order to create a growth-friendly environment in the UK. The event will be an opportunity to discuss the report’s key findings and consider their implications with other PICTFOR members and Parliamentary Vice-Chairs. The launch will be held in the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion. You can register to attend here.
Digital Regulation and Cooperation Forum roundtable – At 09:00 on Thursday 26th October, we will host a breakfast roundtable on the future of digital regulation with members of the DRCF including Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive of Ofcom, and John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner and DRCF Chair. Paul Scully MP, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy will also speak, and Baroness Kidron will host. The discussion will cover how upcoming legislation will impact data freedom and security, how businesses can prepare, and whether the new regulatory regime encourages innovation. The event is now at full capacity. Please get in touch if you would like to be put on the event waitlist.
Tackling safety issues for women and others online – On Wednesday 8th November at 12:30, we will also hold an event examining safety issues for women online with a particular focus on emerging technologies such as AI. From misogynistic abuse to the worlds of online dating and gambling, the discussion will cover what steps are needed to empower women to feel safe online. Speakers will include Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, PICTFOR and Culture, Media, and Sport Committee Chair, as well as representatives from Bumble, TechUK, and Carnegie Trust. You can register to attend here.
Annual Dinner – Responsible tech for an inclusive future – On Wednesday 29th November from 19.00, we will host our most prestigious event of the year – the annual dinner. We are delighted to have Google and the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute for IT, as co-sponsors for this year’s reception and three-course dinner in the House of Lords. The event will provide an opportunity to celebrate the ongoing collaboration between Westminster and the tech sector. Speakers include Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Baroness Barran, Undersecretary of State for Education, and representatives from BCS and Google. The event is now at full capacity. Please get in touch if you would like to be put on the event waitlist.
If any members are interested in getting involved in any of our upcoming events, please contact us at email@example.com.
- In September, Arqit launched the world’s first integrated solution for quantum-safe VPN connectivity using Symmetric Key Agreement. In partnership with Juniper Networks, this technology integration will deliver enhanced protection against sophisticated cyber attacks of today and tomorrow. Learn more here.
- They have also launched a new product, Arqit WalletSecure™, which makes any digital wallet used to store and transact digital asset transactions quantum-safe. Even if the key is hacked or stolen, the digital asset remains secure. Arqit believes that the mainstream adoption of digital assets is accelerating and that providing long term security is important to financial services company adoption of digital asset technology. Learn more here.
- Google launched Project Green Light and work with Transport for Greater Manchester to understand how AI and Google Maps driving trends could improve traffic flow and cut emissions around Manchester. Learn more here.
- In partnership with Google Cloud, Google Deepmind is launching SynthID, an experimental tool for watermarking and identifying AI-generated images. This technology embeds a digital watermark directly into the pixels of an image, making it imperceptible to the human eye, but detectable for identification. While this approach is not infallible, our internal testing shows it is accurate – even when an image undergoes various common image manipulations. Being able to identify AI-generated content is critical to empowering people with knowledge of when they’re interacting with generated media and helping prevent the spread of misinformation.
- Uncovering the root causes of disease is one of the greatest challenges in human genetics. Developed using our new AI model, AlphaMissense, this week Google DeepMind released a catalogue of ‘missense’ mutations where researchers can learn more about what effect they may have. Missense variants are genetic mutations that can affect the function of human proteins – in some cases leading to diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anaemia, or cancer. Researchshows AlphaMissense is able to confidently classify 89% of all 71 million possible ‘missense’ variants as either pathogenic or benign. By contrast, only 0.1% have been confirmed by human experts to date. Our hope is that these findings will mark a significant step in helping scientists uncover new disease-causing genes and increase our ability to diagnose and develop life-saving treatment for rare genetic disorders. To help accelerate progress we’ve made AlphaMissense’s predictions freely available to the scientific community and we’ve partnered with Genomics England who have further validated our work. More information on the potential of this exciting breakthrough is available here.
- Alongside Anthropic, Microsoft and OpenAI Google have announced the formation of the Frontier Model Forum, a new industry body focused on ensuring safe and responsible development of frontier AI models. The Frontier Model Forum will draw on the expertise of its member companies to advance technical evaluations and benchmarks, and develop a public library of industry best practices and standards. The Forum will focus on three key areas over the coming year to support the safe and responsible development of frontier AI models: identifying best practices, advancing AI safety research and facilitating information sharing among companies and governments.
- Jisc, the UK’s digital, data and technology agency for tertiary education and research, has strengthened its cyber security support for the sector by gaining certification by the NCSC Cyber Incident Response (CIR) Level 2. With this new Level 2 accreditation, Jisc is approved by NCSC and CREST as an Assured Service Provider of high-quality cyber security services to institutions of all sizes, as well as the private and public sectors, charities and local authorities. Jisc’s Director of FE and Skills and Training, Paul McKean, produced a blog for the Digital Poverty Alliance stating that the cost of keeping up with AI advancements could mean disadvantaged students get left behind. McKean contends that AI has the potential to help educators better understand and meet the needs of their learners and can provide students with a new set of skills, but this comes at a cost. Jisc has released a package of tools to help universities with their digital transformation. Read the full blog here.
Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy
- UK needs AI legislation to create trust so companies can ‘plug AI into British economy’, according to new report into generative AI from the University of Cambridge. The report finds that:
- UK will struggle to build new AI models that compete with ChatGPT and big US tech firms, despite the government’s “Frontier AI Taskforce”.
- To boost the economy, the UK should focus on developing products that apply “generative AI” to daily life, including tax breaks for investment in AI skills.
- Legislation regulating AI safety and transparency is needed, so British industry and education can confidently invest time and resource into AI development.
- The policy report is a collaboration between Cambridge’s Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, and ai@cam: the University’s flagship initiative on artificial intelligence. Read the full report here.
- Moorhouse, a transformation consultancy that operates across Government and TMT sectors, has recently published a report on the current challenges and pressures across the Civil Service. With reform once again in the spotlight, they look at how this can be used as an opportunity to support and strengthen the teams behind our critical national services. This report, produced in collaboration with Bath University, shares voices and viewpoints from civil servants across the heart of Government. The report can be access here. If you’re interested in hearing more they will be hosting a webinar 12-1 on Thursday 9th November with a line up featuring past and present SCS grades, representation from the MCA and IfG. You can sign up to attend here.
PETRAS National Centre of Excellence
- PETRAS are hosting a summit exploring ideas of prioritising the human experience, privacy and security in a digitally connected world on Wednesday 21 February from 10:00-19:00 in London. Digitally connected ‘smart’ devices benefit society in a plethora of ways – from energy efficiencies to alleviating pressures on health services, as well as enhancing public safety and supporting service provisions in public spaces. These devices are constantly receiving, submitting and processing our personal data and information. At once communicating with one another while interacting with a physical world of sensors and actuators. But what are the privacy and security implications for citizens living with connected technologies? And how can industry practice, research and public policies prioritise respectful privacy and strategic security? Register to attend here.
- PETRAS will host an online briefing on the Future Challenges of IoT Cybersecurity in UK Industry Sectors on Monday 18 December at 10:00. This event will provide an opportunity to discuss the findings of the PETRAS report on the challenges to the integration of IoT-based solutions in the UK industry sectors and how academic-industrial research collaboration can help in addressing the challenges. The report consolidates findings and recommendations from a series of industry-specific workshops attended by leaders in academia, industry and the public sector with case studies from cutting edge PETRAS research projects. Register to attend here.
- DMCC Bill in focus: part four – What will the ‘big tech’ Codes of Conduct mean in practice? In the months since the DMCC Bill was laid before Parliament there has been a lot of noise around tougher regulation of ‘big tech’ or, to put it in more precise legal terms, firms that have Strategic Market Status (SMS) in relation to certain digital activities. But how will these changes influence the day-to-day conduct of tech giants as they interact with other businesses and consumers? Read more here.
- Third time’s the charm for EU-US data transfers, as Commission adopts new adequacy decision. It looks like Christmas has come early this year with a long-anticipated adequacy decision on the EU-US Data Privacy Framework (the Framework) by the European Commission. This decision came into effect on Monday 10th July 2023 following a long period of negotiations between the EU and US and replaces the former EU-US Privacy Shield arrangement. This is a landmark decision which recognises that the US has an adequate level of protecting personal data (comparable to the standard of data protection adopted in the EU) for any transfers of personal data from the EU under the Framework. It allows organisations in the EU to transfer personal data to US organisations that certify that they comply with the Framework, without having to commit to any additional transfer mechanisms, such as the Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). Read more here.
- Employment Law Focus: Menopause in the workplace – Empowering employers and supporting employees. In today’s workforce, where one in three workers is over 50 and 80% of women aged 45 to 55 are employed, it is essential for employers to recognise and address the impact of menopause. Many employees undergoing this natural transition report adverse effects on their work, and statistics reveal a rise in litigation concerning menopause-related issues. In this episode, hosted by Leeanne Armstrong, legal director at TLT, we’re joined by Stephanie Reid from Menopause Spring and Louise Chopra, partner at TLT to discuss the significance of supporting employees experiencing menopause and share invaluable strategies for creating a supportive work environment. Listen here.
UK National Innovation Centre for Data
- The UK National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD), based at Newcastle University, held a Data Innovation Showcase on 27 and 28 September. Sessions brought together speakers, delegates and innovators from industry, academia, civil society and the public sector. Across the two days, the Showcase helped attendees to understand the issues, tools and techniques driving the frontiers of Data Science. In total, 192 people from 79 different organisations shared information, ideas and new thinking. PICTFOR members interested in hearing more about opportunities to collaborate with NICD, are invited to reach NICS at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parliamentary forward look
- On 20 October, the Government responded to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee’s report into Digital exclusion and the cost of living. As part of this, the Government have committed to establishing a cross-Ministerial group on digital inclusion, which will be chaired by Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Paul Scully MP. The majority of the Committee’s other recommendations were rejected. Read the full report and Government response here.
- On 25 October, the Science and Technology Committee will hold the fifth session of its inquiry into the Governance of Artificial Intelligence, hearing from the regulators, academics, and law enforcement. Watch the session here.
- On 31 October, the Government’s response to the Science and Technology Committee’s report into the Governance of Artificial Intelligence is due. Read the full report here.
- On 10 November, the window to submit written evidence to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the Cyber resilience of the UK’s critical national infrastructure will close. Find out how to submit evidence here.
- On 11 December, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee will receive a Government response to its October report into Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the Blockchain. Read the report here.
We are grateful to receive your contributions and encourage all PICTFOR members to keep us updated with upcoming research, reports, news or thought-leadership pieces to include in our regular newsletters. These are distributed to our industry members, Parliamentary Officers, MP’s and peers.
The PICTFOR Secretariat