The UK government has confirmed it will host a global summit on artificial intelligence safety later this year.

The government announced that the summit will bring together “key countries, leading tech companies and researchers” to agree safety measures to evaluate and monitor the most significant risks from AI.

The UK government also confirmed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden “will take a co-ordinated approach to the opportunities and challenges of emerging tech when they meet at the White House” on Thursday.

Image credit: US government

AI Summit

The government said that the UK is taking action as it has a “global duty to ensure AI is developed and adopted safely and responsibly.”

It comes after dozens of leading experts warned last week about the potential for AI to endanger humanity in similar ways to pandemics or nuclear weapons.

And this week a government advisor, Marc Warner, warned that powerful AI systems with human-like, general-purpose intelligence may need to be banned to preserve humanity.

Prior to that in March the UK government 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.

Now the government has said that “in Washington DC today, the Prime Minister will stress the importance of likeminded allies and companies working to develop an international framework to ensure the safe and reliable development and use of AI.

The summit, which will be hosted in the UK this autumn, will consider the risks of AI, including frontier systems, and discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action. It will also provide a platform for countries to work together on further developing a shared approach to mitigate these risks, the government said.

It added that in recent weeks the Prime Minister has discussed this issue with a number of businesspeople and world leaders. This includes all members of the G7 who were united in their ambition to take a shared approach to this issue at the Hiroshima Summit last month.

In May the PM also met the CEOs of the OpenAI, DeepMind and Anthropic in Downing Street.

The government said that next month in July the Foreign Secretary will also convene the first ever briefing of the UN Security Council on the opportunities and risks of Artificial Intelligence for international peace and security.

The government said that the UK is well-placed to convene discussions on the future of AI. It claimed that the UK is a world-leader in AI – ranking third behind the US and China. The UK’s AI sector already contributes £3.7 billion to the UK economy and employs 50,000 people across the country.

Harnessing AI

“AI has an incredible potential to transform our lives for the better. But we need to make sure it is developed and used in a way that is safe and secure,” said the Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak at London Tech Week 2022. Image credit: Rishi Sunak/Twitter

“Time and time again throughout history we have invented paradigm-shifting new technologies and we have harnessed them for the good of humanity. That is what we must do again,” the PM said. “No one country can do this alone. This is going to take a global effort. But with our vast expertise and commitment to an open, democratic international system, the UK will stand together with our allies to lead the way.”

“The Global Summit on AI Safety will play a critical role in bringing together government, industry, academia and civil society, and we’re looking forward to working closely with the UK Government to help make these efforts a success,” said Demis Hassabis, CEO & Co-Founder, Google DeepMind.

“It’s deeply important we make AI safe,” added Dario Amodei, CEO and Co-Founder of Anthropic. “There is an enormous amount of work that still needs to be done. So we commend the Prime Minister for bringing the world together to find answers and have smart conversations.”

Meanwhile US technology company Palantir Technologies, which already has more than 800 employees in Britain, will separately announce plans to make the UK its new European headquarters for AI development, the British government said.

Extremely helpful

Other experts in the AI field also welcomed the government’s announcement.

“Earlier this year, the whitepaper released in the UK highlighted the numerous advantages of Artificial Intelligence, emphasising its potential as a valuable tool for enhancing business operations,” said Sridhar Iyengar, managing director of business tool provider Zoho Europe.

“With the Government’s ongoing ambition to position the UK as a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030, and coupled with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reiterating his vision of making the UK the “next Silicon Valley”, the UK’s leading input here could be extremely helpful in achieving these goals,” said Iyengar.

“AI is set to play an important role, particularly as the economy stabilises, given its remarkable potential to enhance various aspects such as customer service, data analysis, fraud detection and forecasting, excelling business efficiencies,” said Iyengar.

“To fully harness the power of AI and ensure optimal outcomes for all stakeholders, a global regulatory framework supported by public trust is essential,” said Iyengar. “As AI becomes increasingly integrated into our daily lives, adopting a unified approach to regulations becomes crucial.”

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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