23 Feb 2024

Event summary: Scotland, AI and the world. How global partners and Scottish government can drive AI adoption and improve public services

On 16 February 2024, techUK hosted a panel in partnership with CGI at the Scottish Labour Party’s Conference in Glasgow:  ‘Scotland, AI and the world. How global partners and Scottish government can drive AI adoption and improve public services’. Joining the panel as speakers were:

  • Michael Marra, Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Deputy Convener of the Finance and Public Administration Committee
  • Claire Baker MSP, Convenor of the Economy and Fair Work Committee
  • Diane Gutiw, Vice-President, Analytics, AI and Machine Learning – CGI 
  • Gillian Docherty OBE, Chief Commercial Officer, University of Strathclyde 
  • Alison Orr, Director of Marketing and Communications, The Data Lab 
Diane edited.jpg

The panel started with CGI’s Diane Gutiw giving a quick ‘catchup on AI’, which aimed to clear up definitions about AI to prevent confusion and mythbust on AI. Diane outlined how models are trained and how they can be used to accelerate decision making by human operators.

The panel then began their discussion. One of the key themes throughout was the need to seize the advantages being offered by AI, particularly in public services. AI, for example, has the potential to significantly increase diagnosis rates in the NHS, reducing Scotland’s long waiting times for NHS care.

In order to take advantage of AI’s opportunities, it was noted by the panel that there was a need to increase knowledge, including digital skills. The university sector in particular was highlighted as holding great potential for co-operation with business to offer courses in skills students will need in an AI-enabled economy. The panel also agreed that AI skills training should not just be restricted to Scotland’s education system, but also for those in work and who may not want to or be able to re-enter full-time education.

Finding a way to plug this education gap was outlined as essential for introducing AI into public services. Public servants, from doctors to civil servants, can be released from many repetitive tasks by AI, and can use the time regained to improve services for those in Scotland. The panel agreed though that, exciting as its potential is, AI is not a universal panacea for issues in Scotland’s public services. Instead, other structural changes are required to fully embrace the potential of AI. Using AI to ensure faster diagnoses, for example, will not improve NHS services if it simply leads to longer waiting lists for treatment.

Of course, AI does provide risks to be mitigated, with the panel discussing the risks deepfakes prove to the democratic debate in a year when billions around the world will go to the polls. Here, the panel agreed that combatting knowledge gaps and improving education on AI can equip people with the tools necessary to spot and report deepfakes. The panel argued the potential for deepfakes should not deter those wanting to take advantage of AI’s opportunities, but that this must be won through boosting confidence in AI through education, mythbusting and tools to detect these deepfakes.

We want to thank our panel for speaking and thank CGI for partnering with us to deliver this fascinating discussion.

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I am delighted to be joining techUK’s Nations and Regions Council as Vice Chair. I am committed to supporting techUK’s ambition to ensure equitable growth across the nation, building on my own experiences of developing the UK Space Ecosystem. I am excited to be part of this new Council which will bring together talented colleagues from across a range of sectors to create opportunities and bolster local economic growth across the UK.

Dr Nafeesa Dajda

Satellite Applications Catapult

I'm delighted to be part of the council; as devolution increases, the ability for techUK and it's members to be able to engage at a regional level and champion the role of tech sector in driving inclusive economic growth becomes ever more critical

Marie Hamilton


The Local Digital Index that BT Group has been pleased to champion from the outset is a real reminder of the challenges and opportunities we face across the UK in ensuring digital innovation delivers for all of us. So I am looking forward to working with and learning from Council members in the nations and regions to help make that happen and ensure we build on the best of what our sector has to offer

Nick Speed, Head of Nations & Regions

BT Group

techUK – Building Stronger Local Economies 


techUK champions the tech sector throughout the UK. We work with local authorities, devolved government, and local and national policy makers to advocate for the tech sector in strengthening economic growth and resilience. We provide opportunities for our members and local stakeholders to meet, build relationships, and collaborate to drive forward local projects. For more information or to get in touch, please visit our Nations and Regions Hub and click ‘contact us’. 

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Matt Robinson

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