UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Meets Tech CEOs to Discuss 'Existential Threats’ of AI

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Rishi Sunak threat of AI

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has met with the CEOs of OpenAI, Google DeepMind and Anthropic to discuss the dangers of AI and the future of regulation on the emerging technology. 

Mr Sunak made it clear that “AI is the defining technology of our time with the potential to “positively transform humanity”, but warned that the technology’s future depends on having the “right guardrails” to protect the public from the risks. 

These risks, he said, included disinformation and national security concerns, as well as “existential threats” to the UK population. 

In a joint statement with 10 Downing Street, the PM stressed that regulations must keep pace with the growth of AI while being coordinated internationally. 

“The potential impacts of AI transcend borders and have implications for the world economy,” the statement said. 

“AI safety will be an international endeavour – as agreed at the G7 – with the UK well-placed to lead the international discussion regarding the measures and guardrails that are needed.”

Foundational Model Taskforce

OpenAI’s Sam Altman, Google’s Demis Hassabis and Anthropic’s Dario Amodei agreed to work closely with Mr Sunak’s proposed  Foundation Model Taskforce which aims to advance approaches to AI safety to inform the international approach.

Backed by £100 million in funding, the task force is part of the UK government’s commitment to harness AI’s potential in the UK. 

It follows the government’s earlier investment of £900 million to build a supercomputer designed to train and run the AI models – dubbed BritGPT. 

“The PM spoke about the UK Government’s ambitions to advance capability in AI and harness AI’s potential to deliver better outcomes for the British public, with emerging opportunities in a range of areas to improve public services, a statement from 10 Downing Street said. 

“AI will improve life dramatically, from transforming industries to delivering scientific breakthroughs. The PM and CEOs committed to work together to ensure society benefits from such transformation.”

While experts have largely welcomed the move, some are concerned that the UK government still has a long way to go if it wishes to become the next AI superpower it aspires to be. 

Regardless, Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director for Zoho Europe, believes that Sunak’s meeting with such big names in the AI space is a step in the right direction. 

“It is positive to see UK leaders in both government and AI come together to discuss the future of this technology. Artificial Intelligence offers huge potential and regulation to ensure the ethical use of AI will help to garner public trust.”

AI has the potential to supercharge business growth if implemented in the right way

Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director for Zoho Europe.

“Businesses are starting to reap the rewards it provides in various business tools such as customer service assistants, fraud detection, data analysis, forecasting and many more. 

“As AI developments continue to emerge at a rapid pace, businesses must remain vigilant and monitor progressions in this area to apply AI in the right way as government and AI leaders collaborate to create a safe playing field for the further development and adoption of this technology,” Mr Iyengar added. 

The need for Regulation is Clear

While Mr Sunak has long been an advocate for the benefits of AI, concerns have mounted globally for the technology since the rise of OpenAI’s explosive AI chatbot last November. 

The chatbot amassed more than 100 million active users in less than 6 months and is financially backed by Microsoft, which has so far invested $11 billion into the technology. 

But the AI technology that powers ChatGPT has raised concerns among experts, who warn that it could have detrimental effects on society. 

Earlier this month, Geoffrey Hinton, the man widely seen as one of the godfathers of AI, warned the dangers of AI chatbots are “quite scary” after quitting his job at Google’s AI division

He joined over 1800 public figures including Twitter CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozanik in signing an open letter urging tech firms to pause the development of AI systems to prevent the threat of “AI experiments”. 

​​The authors of the letter note that while the possibilities of technology are significant, the world could be faced with a harsh reality if unregulated development continues: 

“Recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.”

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