UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled the UK government‘s approach to ensuring the safety of artificial intelligence (AI) in anticipation of the AI Safety Summit. Despite optimism about AI’s transformative potential, Sunak emphasized the necessity of addressing associated risks to unlock its full range of opportunities.
Balancing AI Risks and Rewards
While Sunak acknowledged the potential benefits of AI, he also highlighted the serious concerns, stating that failing to address AI risks could facilitate the creation of chemical or biological weapons, enable terrorist groups to spread fear on a greater scale, and allow criminals to exploit AI for various malicious activities. He also alluded to the speculative but extreme scenario of losing control over “super intelligent” AI, emphasizing that such risks, while uncertain, demand attention.
However, Sunak emphasized that there’s no immediate need for alarm and that the matter is a subject of debate among experts. To foster transparency, the UK government has published an analysis of “frontier AI,” laying the groundwork for discussions at the AI Safety Summit on November 1-2 at Bletchley Park.
UK’s Approach to AI Safety
Sunak emphasized the UK’s commitment to innovation and reluctance to rush regulation. Instead, the government is investing in AI safety through a £100 million task force and the establishment of the world’s first AI Safety Institute. The institute will evaluate AI models, examining risks from bias and misinformation to extreme scenarios.
AI could solve problems we once thought beyond us.
Today @Moorfields, I saw how they’re using AI to predict heart attacks and strokes.
We’re investing a further £100m to accelerate the use of AI in healthcare, supporting breakthroughs for previously incurable diseases. pic.twitter.com/MiblTLdMO9
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 26, 2023
The AI Safety Summit aims to establish the first international statement on AI risks, similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which could lead to the creation of a global expert panel for AI.
However, ahead of the summit, experts have expressed concerns that the emphasis on “frontier risks” detracts attention from real-world harms currently caused by AI. They argue that addressing transparency, reliability, predictability, accountability, and economic power concentration should also be priorities. The potential collapse of competition, the complex AI supply chain, and the rights of data labellers and those responsible for AI maintenance were also highlighted as significant safety concerns.
In response to Sunak’s speech, calls have been made to include workers and trade unions in AI discussions, recognizing the technology’s widespread deployment in workplaces and its potential impact on jobs and labor practices.