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PM Theresa May Seeks Safe AI Future For UK

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

British PM to propose new advisory body to oversea safe and ethical deployment of AI, and urges tech firms to tackle extremism

The UK Prime Minister is to indicate that she wants the United Kingdom to lead the world in the safe and ethical deployment of artificial intelligence (AI).

Theresa May will make the comments during her speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In the speech, she will say that she wants a new advisory body to co-ordinate AI efforts with other countries.

Earlier this month the government said it wants to become an AI leader, and also announced that it would strengthen links with France in the tech and artificial intelligence sectors.

AI Future

Theresa May will also use her speech to business leaders in Davos on Thursday to urge shareholders to pressure social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook to do more to tackle terrorism.

“Investors can make a big difference here by ensuring trust and safety issues are being properly considered. And I urge them to do so,” the Guardian reported as her expected to say. The PM will also cite a recent case in which Facebook and Twitter shareholders called for the platforms to take tougher action.

“These companies simply cannot stand by while their platforms are used to facilitate child abuse, modern slavery or the spreading of terrorist and extremist content,” she is expected to say.

She will also target out the messaging app Telegram, which has been accused of facilitating communication by terrorists.

Besides urging tech firms and social networking companies to tackle online extremism, the PM will also highlight the area of artificial intelligence and the leading role she wants the UK to play thanks to a new UK advisory body, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

She will point to the UK’s startup success story, and will quote a figure that a new AI-related company has been created in the country every week for the last three years.

In addition, she is expected to say that the UK is recognised as first in the world for its preparedness to “bring artificial intelligence into government”, according to the BBC.

However, she will also recognise that many people have concerns about AI, and its potential to result in job losses or even the end of life as we know it.

That said, the PM will declare that AI poses one of the “greatest tests of leadership for our time”.

“But it is a test that I am confident we can meet,” she is expected to say. “For right across the long sweep of history from the invention of electricity to advent of factory production, time and again initially disquieting innovations have delivered previously unthinkable advances and we have found the way to make those changes work for all our people,” the PM will say.

In addition, she will confirm that the UK will join the Davos forum’s own council on artificial intelligence.

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Global Race

There is little doubt that the UK is in a favourable position in the AI sector.

Deepmind (before it was acquired by Google) was created in the UK, as was Dracktrace which incorporates AI into its cybersecurity offerings. And according to Oxford Insights at least, the UK is best prepared country in the world for artificial intelligence (AI) implementation.

But China and the United States are in reality the two countries in the world vying for AI dominance at the moment. And there are other countries as well.

France for example has been chosen by Google for its new research centre dedicated to exploring how AI can be applied to health and the environment. Facebook likewise has also doubled the size of its existing AI lab in Paris.

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