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David Cameron has taken up a senior role at an artificial intelligence company in one of his few business appointments since he quit politics in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum. The former Tory prime minister has been hired by Washington-based Afiniti to chair its advisory board, which features an array of high-profile figures.
Members of the board include Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, François Fillon, former prime minister of France, and Elisabeth Murdoch, chair of the Shine Group. Afiniti was set up by Zia Chishti, a US-Pakistani entrepreneur, and specialises in the use of AI in call centres.
Previously Mr Chishti, a former Morgan Stanley banker, invented the medical device Invisalign, co-founding the company Align Technology to sell the product. Mr Cameron has kept a low profile since he resigned as prime minister in June 2016 after the defeat of the Remain campaign in the referendum. Since then he accumulated a portfolio of roles at not-for-profit organisations, such as president of Alzheimer’s Research UK, chair of the National Citizen Service’s board of patrons, and chair of the LSE-Oxford Commission on stage fragility. One rare foray into the business world is his involvement in a new UK-China investment fund — along with a PR veteran called Lord Chadlington — although this has so far failed to complete its first financial fundraising.
Mr Cameron said in a statement that his premiership had taken various steps to encourage new technology industries, such as developing Tech City in London and creating a new Government Digital Service. “I was excited to see the rapid development in Artificial Intelligence and the huge potential AI has to address some of the challenges that societies face today,” he said. “I have been exploring developments in AI for some time to better understand how industry and policymakers can collaborate in solving these challenges and ensuring that AI serves people’s everyday lives.”
Mr Cameron is a controversial figure in the UK, having been blamed by many Remainers for launching the EU referendum of 2016 on the complacent assumption that the public would not vote to leave. He intends to publish his memoirs this autumn — a year later than originally planned — having sold the rights to publisher William Collins for £800,000 three years ago.