Rishi Sunak: Britain's role in AI will tip the balance in favour of humanity

Rishi Sunak has said Britain’s leading role in Artificial Intelligence will “tip the balance in favour of humanity” following agreements with top companies to vet their technology before it is released.

The Prime Minister yesterday said that his AI safety summit, which was attended by world leaders and top officials and tech giants, was the “beginning of the conversation” about regulating one of the future’s most dangerous and powerful inventions.

He admitted that “binding requirements” would be needed in order to regulate AI technology in the coming years, urging countries to move quickly in order to protect the public while harnessing its potential.

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Speaking at the end of the two-day conference in Bletchley Park, the home of the allied code-breaking effort during the Second World War, he acknowledged the anxiety over the technology upending the job market by automating skilled labour, but stressed that will be helpful in many industries.

Rishi Sunak speaks during a closing press conference at the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park.Rishi Sunak speaks during a closing press conference at the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park.
Rishi Sunak speaks during a closing press conference at the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park.

“AI is a tool that can help almost everybody do their jobs better, faster, quicker, and that’s how we’re already seeing it being deployed,” he told the press conference.

Asked whether the non-binding agreement reached with tech firms was enough to mitigate risks without the backing of legislation, Mr Sunak replied: “The lesson is that we need to move quickly and that’s what we’re doing.

“The technology is developing at such a pace that governments have to make sure that we can keep up.”

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It came after the Technology Secretary said a Terminator-style rise of the machines was a “potential area” where AI development could lead – remarks Mr Sunak did not distance himself from when asked about them later.

Michelle Donelan was speaking to Times Radio from the summit in Milton Keynes, where ministers have convened governments from around the world alongside tech firms and civil society to discuss the risks of the advancing technology.

The summit has seen delegations from around the world, including the US and China, agree on the so-called “Bletchley declaration” – a statement on the risks surrounding the technology to be used as the starting point for a global conversation.

Attending the gathering on Wednesday, Mr Musk said AI was “one of the biggest threats” facing humanity and it was “not clear to me if we can control such a thing” when humans face “something that is going to be far more intelligent than us”.

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It comes as the Prime Minister announced the creation of a UK-based AI Safety Institute to cement the UK’s position as a leader in the industry.

This hub will evaluate the risks of future models of the technology before they are released, with advisors including world leaders in computer science and national security.

This will include lower-level risks such as bias and misinformation, to disaster-level outcomes such as humanity completely losing control of AI.