OpenAI To Open First Overseas Office In UK

ChatGPT owner and developer OpenAI has announced its first overseas expansion outside of the United States.

The AI pioneer confirmed that it’s first international office will located in the United Kingdom, namely in London, the firm announced in a blog post.

The move is a boost to the UK’s attempts to retain a leading position in the growing artificial intelligence (AI) race. The government has previously said it has invested £2.5bn in AI since 2014.

Image credit: Andrew Neel/Pexels

UK position

Earlier this month Prime minister Rishi Sunak had said he wanted the UK to be the “geographical home” of co-ordinated international efforts to regulate artificial intelligence (AI).

He also said he wanted the UK to take advantage of a boom in AI development.

Prior to that in Washington DC, Sunak reached a deal with US president Joe Biden for the UK to host an international summit on the risks and regulation of AI later this year.

And in late May Sunak personally met with the CEOs of OpenAI, Google DeepMind, and Anthropic to discuss joint action to ensure the development of safe and responsible Artificial Intelligence, and how to establish the right approach to governance for the next technological frontier.

It came after the UK government in March had set out its plan to regulate the artificial intelligence (AI) sector and proposed five principles to guide its use via its “adaptable” AI plan.

Then in April the UK government also announced a taskforce (Foundation Model Taskforce) with an initial £100 million in funding to develop artificial intelligence (AI) foundation models.

London office

Now San Francisco-based OpenAI blogged on Wednesday that it would start its expansion outside the US in London.

“Our first international office in London signifies a milestone in OpenAI’s growth, showcasing our commitment to broaden the scope of our operations, bring in diverse perspectives, and accelerate our mission of ensuring that artificial general intelligence (AGI) benefits all of humanity,” the firm stated.

“We are thrilled to extend our research and development footprint into London, a city globally renowned for its rich culture and exceptional talent pool,” said Diane Yoon, OpenAI’s VP of People.

“We are eager to build dynamic teams in Research, Engineering, and Go-to-Market functions, as well as other areas, to reinforce our efforts in creating and promoting safe AGI,” Yoon added.

Vibrant ecosystem

OpenAI said London’s vibrant technology ecosystem and its exceptional talent made it the ideal location for OpenAI’s first international office.

OpenAI, which has received multibillion-dollar backing from Microsoft, said the London office would focus on research and engineering.

The London office will also collaborate on the firm’s mission with local communities and policy makers.

“We see this expansion as an opportunity to attract world-class talent and drive innovation in AGI development and policy,” said Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI. “We’re excited about what the future holds and to see the contributions our London office will make towards building and deploying safe AI.”

Image credit: Sam Altman

The company did not say when the office would open or how many people it would employ, but it has already advertised four roles for the new office, including a security engineer and a head of UK policy.

It should be remembered that the UK already boasts some notable AI-related firms, as well as talent.

For example Google’s DeepMind business has been based in London for years, and the UK is generally recognised for the strength of its academic work in AI.

The UK also boasts a number of other AI companies including cybersecurity firm Darktrace and the image generation startup Stability AI.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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