PM Rishi Sunak Outlines AI Risks, Cautions Against Rush To Regulation

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned about the risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI), but urged nations to embrace its gaming-changing potential.

The PM in his speech said he makes “no apology for being pro-technology,” and he is “unashamedly optimistic about the power of technology to make life better for everyone.”

He cited a recent visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital, where they are using Artificial Intelligence to build a model that can look at a single picture of your eyes in order to not only diagnose blindness, but predict heart attacks, strokes, or Parkinson’s.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Image credit UK government

AI risks

“I genuinely believe that technologies like AI will bring a transformation as far-reaching as the industrial revolution, the coming of electricity, or the birth of the internet,” said the Prime Minister.

But the Prime Minister also cautioned about the misuse of AI, and pointed out that the UK has published its analysis of the risks associated with AI.

“Get this wrong, and AI could make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons,” said the Prime Minister.

“Terrorist groups could use AI to spread fear and destruction on an even greater scale. Criminals could exploit AI for cyber-attacks, disinformation, fraud, or even child sexual abuse. And in the most unlikely but extreme cases, there is even the risk that humanity could lose control of AI completely.”

The PM said he didn’t want to be alarmist and sought to encourage a real debate about the technology.

He pointed out that the UK is undertaking specific ways to ensure the safe development of AI.

First is to ensure that AI keeps people safe by developing appropriate AI models and standards.

AI Safety Institute

And he said the UK’s answer is not to rush regulation.

He pointed out that the UK has already invested £100m in a new taskforce to understand and evaluate the safety of AI models within government. He said this is more funding for AI safety than any other country in the world.

And he said the UK has recruited some of the most respected and knowledgeable figures in the world of AI.

And now the UK has gone further, and announced it will establish the world’s first AI Safety Institute in the UK, to advance the world’s knowledge of AI safety.

“It will examine, evaluate, and test new types of AI so that we understand what each new model is capable of exploring all the risks, from social harms like bias and misinformation, through to the most extreme risks of all,” said the PM.

He said the work of the UK’s AI Safety Institute will be made available to the world.

AI Safety Summit

The PM also pointed out that AI does not respect borders, and “we cannot do this alone.”

That is the second part of the UK’s plan “is to host the world’s first ever Global AI Safety Summit next week, at Bletchley Park – the iconic home of computer science.”

It is understood the AI Safety Summit will be attended by the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.

The summit will be held at Bletchley Park on 1 and 2 November.

“We’re bringing together the world’s leading representatives from Civil Society to the companies pioneering AI and the countries most advanced in using it,” said the Prime Minister. “And yes – we’ve invited China.”

“I know there are some who will say they should have been excluded,” said the PM. “But there can be no serious strategy for AI without at least trying to engage all of the world’s leading AI powers. That might not have been the easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do.”

The PM said the AI Safety Summit aims to reach a shared understanding of the risks that the world faces, so the global community can address them.

“That’s why we will push hard to agree the first ever international statement about the nature of these risks,” said the PM.

He said inspiration should be taken from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was set up to reach an international scientific consensus.

Expert Panel

“So, next week, I will propose that we establish a truly global expert panel nominated by the countries and organisations attending to publish a State of AI Science report,” said the PM.

The PM also said that its efforts also depend on collaboration with the AI companies themselves, and that “by making the UK a global leader in safe AI, we will attract even more of the new jobs and investment that will come from this new wave of technology.”

He pointed the UK was placed as it is third in the world for tech (behind only the US and China); the UK is the best place in Europe to raise capital; all of the leading AI companies are choosing the UK as their European headquarters; the UK has the most pro-investment tax regime, the UK has the most pro-entrepreneur visa regime, to attract the world’s top talent; and finally the UK has the “education reforms to give our own young people the skills to succeed.”

Additional £100m

The Prime Minister then went on to list the potential benefits of AI, including potentially finding a solution to dementia, achieving nuclear fusion, make food cheaper to solve world hunger and prevent crop failures to name but a few.

“That’s why today we’re investing a further £100m to accelerate the use of AI on the most transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases,” said the PM.

“Now I believe nothing in our foreseeable future will be more transformative for our economy, our society, and all our lives, than this technology,” said the PM. “But in this moment, it is also one of the greatest tests of leadership we face.”

“And yet, if harnessed in the right way, the power and possibility of this technology could dwarf anything any of us have achieved in a generation,” said the PM. “And that’s why I make no apology for being pro-technology.”

“It’s why I want to seize every opportunity for our country to benefit in the way I’m so convinced that it can,” the PM concluded. “And it’s why I believe we can and should, look to the future with optimism and hope.”

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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