Speaking at London Tech Week today, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to make the UK the global hub of ‘safe’ AI as he stated that the world is moving towards the biggest industrial revolution in history of time. Sunak spoke of the ‘extraordinary possibilities’ and potential of emerging tech.
For example he said that the progress of AI could help paralysed people walk whilst in the medical field new antibiotics could be discovered that could eradicate superbugs.
Clear framework for AI
However the Prime Minister pointed out that it was imperative for any advances in emerging technology to be carried out within a ‘clear framework’, hinting that the UK could be a world leader on the regulation of AI. During a trip to the US last week, Sunak announced that the UK will be hosting the first international summit for AI safety.
The potential for progress that could eclipse even the industrial revolution. Already we’ve seen AI help the paralysed to walk and discover superbug-killing antibiotics — and that’s just the beginning. The possibilities are extraordinary. But we must — and we will — do it safely. I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation. The tectonic plates of technology are shifting. We cannot rest, satisfied with where we stand. We must act, and act quickly, if we want not only to retain our position as one of the world’s tech capitals but to go even further and make this the best country in the world to start, grow and invest in tech businesses.” Rishi Sunak, UK Prime Minister
Sunak added that he sensed that this is an opportunity for human progress. It could surpass the industrial revolution in both speed and breath and in his opinion, it was not an opportunity to be missed. The UK Government has already invested £100 million in a Foundation Model Taskforce that has been created to lead on AI safety and regulation in the UK.
Biden supports Sunak to lead the effort
During his trip to the US last week, Sunak discussed the future of AI with President Joe Biden at a meeting in Washington DC. Biden said that he was looking at the British Prime Minister to ‘lead the effort’ on heading up a globally coordinated initiative to mitigate the risks of emerging technology. When he spoke with the media in the US, Sunak confirmed that the UK is ‘well placed’ to take a leading role in developing a ‘global architecture’ for regulation and good governance.
Sunak also took part in a ‘fireside chat’ with Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google DeepMind. A number of leading technology companies that include Google DeepMind and Anthropic alerted the public that AI in the wrong hands “could be used to harm people and this could spell the end of humanity”.
Sunak’s strategy is met very positively
The business community reacted very positively to Sunak’s AI strategy. Joanna Shields, CEO of Benevolent AI, said there was ‘limited opportunity to take action’ on regulating AI and that she was ‘delighted’ the UK was taking the matter seriously and leading with the first global AI safety technology conference.
These crucial initiatives serve as a solid foundation, and now it is essential for both the public and private sectors to collaborate closely to tackle this monumental challenge and position the UK at the forefront of AI regulation,’ Joanna Shields, CEO – Benevolent AI
There have also been extensive concerns amongst the business community with over 50,000 signatories in a letter in March this year calling for a six-month pause in AI development and requesting for the creation of robust AI government systems. Many in the tech industry would like the focus on AI to be immediate. Dedicated regulatory authorities, public funding for safety research and tracking of powerful systems are also being requested.
The UK is in a great position to be at the forefront of the AI revolution. I’m excited to see this country leaning in on this agenda and actively looking to capitalise on the tremendous opportunities that this creates.’ Poppy Gustafsson, CEO – Darktrace