PM: UK Can Be ‘Home Of Global AI Safety Regulation’

Prime minister Rishi Sunak told the London Tech Week conference on Monday he wants the UK to be the “geographical home” of coordinated international efforts to regulate artificial intelligence (AI).

He said the “tectonic plates of technology are shifting” and that the “possibilities” of AI are “extraordinary”.

“But we must – and we will – do it safely,” Sunak said.

“I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at London Tech Week 2023. Image credit: Rishi Sunak/Twitter

Regulation and innovation

His remarks follow disappointment from some in the industry when a March whitepaper on AI opted to delegate regulation to existing authorities handling areas such as human rights, health and safety, and competition, rather than creating a new regulator.

The US is also leaning toward the use of existing laws to regulate AI, while by contrast the European Union is drafting its AI Act and China is also developing a dedicated framework.

In Washington, DC last week 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.

Sunak acknowledged there was “concern” around the potential for sophisticated AI tools to make people’s jobs obsolete.

‘Contours of the world’

But he said such worries were not new. “We’ve grappled with these things in the past,” he said.

Finance minister Jeremy Hunt told the conference this was a moment when “the contours of the world for the rest of this century are being set”.

He said he wanted the UK to be a “force for good” in making sure “technology can really benefit everyone”.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo the chief executive of Microsoft-backed OpenAI, Sam Altman, told students he was “quite optimistic” about the prospects for global coordination on AI regulation.


“I came to the trip … sceptical that it was going to be possible in the short term to get global cooperation to reduce existential risk but I am now wrapping up the trip feeling quite optimistic we can get it done,” he said, according to a Reuters report.

He said of Japan that “there’s a long history of humans and machines working together here”.

OpenAI is the developer of ChatGPT, which sparked an investment frenzy in the industry when it was released to the public last November.

Altman is due to visit Singapore, Indonesia and Australia before returning to the US.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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