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HMG wants your views on the "future of compute"

"Advanced computing capability is fundamental to achieving our objectives"

The UK government’s Future of Compute review has opened its call for evidence, and is inviting thoughts from across the tech sector on how the UK should approach large-scale computing.

“Advanced computing capability is fundamental to achieving our objectives in the Digital Strategy, National AI Strategy and the Data Strategy, amongst others, and delivering the ambition for the UK to be a science and technology superpower,” said the call-for-evidence announcement.

DCMS is running the Future of Compute evidence-gathering process, although the actual review is a joint initiative between the Treasury and DCMS, with then-chancellor Rishi Sunak launching the review during London Tech Week. What implications the current governmental convulsions have on tech policy remain to be seen.

See also: UK gov taps Google’s Ghahramani to head ‘Future of Compute’ review

The Future of Compute evidence call sets out 12 questions – see below – covering the needs of users, access and enablers, infrastructure, and how the UK compares to other countries. An issue which crops up in a few questions is location of compute resources, and to what extent compute should be in the UK.

“We are interested in whether any users need UK-hosted compute and/or storage, and for what purposes. Does the geographic location of systems overseas impact their ability to meet user needs?” asks the Future of Compute evidence-call.

To some extent this parallels the ongoing debate about the UK’s semiconductor industry, and whether it should work to secure more domestic production. Given the UK has recently cut itself off from the EU, and faces increasing turbulence in relations with both the US and East Asian countries, this is not a trivial concern.

See also: Defence, industry, academics maul HMG over chip sector failings

Interested parties can submit Future of Compute evidence until Friday 5 August. The announcement notes submissions will be published and become part of public record, and DCMS cannot guarantee confidential elements will remain so, which is worth bearing in mind.

Instructions for submitting evidence to the review are here.

Future of Compute evidence: Questions

  1. What are the compute needs of UK users?
  2. How do you expect demand for compute in the UK to change over the next decade?
  3. Should the government be trying to stimulate demand for compute, and why?
  4. How do you expect the compute provision that is available to UK users to change over the next decade?
  5. How should the government incentivise the supply of compute?
  6. What ownership and operational models could best meet the needs of compute users (including business, government, and academic users)?
  7. What are the risks of the increasingly widespread use of compute, and how can they best be mitigated?
  8. How can the government most effectively intervene in the compute market to help to mitigate the environmental impact of this technology?
  9. How can the government help to increase access to compute across user groups?
  10. What are the key issues that prevent UK users accessing the compute supply?
  11. What public procurement approaches could best meet compute users’ current and future needs?
  12. How does the UK compare internationally in relation to compute? Does the UK have, or should it develop, specific strengths?

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