Following calls for a moratorium from some tech professionals and business leaders, Rishi Sunak has declared that the UK will take the lead in reducing the risks posed by artificial intelligence. Sunak stated that AI could aid society, bring about revolution, but society must implement it “safely, securely, and with proper guard rails.”
After Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, and Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, added their names to over 30,000 signatures on a letter advocating a delay in major initiatives, the prime minister’s remarks sound more cautious than in the past.
The letter called for a moratorium while the capabilities and dangers of systems such as ChatGPT-4 are properly studied and mitigated in response to fears about the creation of digital minds, fraud, disinformation and the risk to jobs.
Rishi Sunak has been an advocate of AI, emphasising its benefits rather than risks, and in March the government unveiled a light-touch regulatory programme that did not appear to include proposals for any new laws or enforcement bodies.
He also launched a £100m UK taskforce last month to develop “safe and reliable” applications for AI with the aim of making the country a science and technology superpower by 2030.
But, speaking on the plane to Japan for the G7 summit, where AI will be discussed, Sunak said a global approach to regulation was needed. “We have taken a deliberately iterative approach because the technology is evolving quickly and we want to make sure that our regulation can evolve as it does as well,” he said. “Now that is going to involve coordination with our allies … you would expect it to form some of the conversations as well at the G7.
“I think that the UK has a track record of being in a leadership position and bringing people together, particularly in regard to technological regulation in the online safety bill … And again, the companies themselves, in that instance as well, have worked with us and looked to us to provide those guard rails as they will do and have done on AI.”
The US has also pushed for a discussion of AI at the summit in Hiroshima, with leaders potentially discussing the threat from disinformation or to infrastructure posed by a technology moving at speed, exemplified by the ChatGPT system.