London to get boost from Microsoft AI hub

The tech firm's AI boss Mustafa Suleyman says it will advertise roles for 'exceptional individuals'

Signing up: Mustafa Suleyman at a panel event in London before his decision to join Microsoft. Matthew Davies / The National
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London's status as a centre of technological innovation and excellence received a boost on Monday with the announcement that Microsoft intends to build an artificial intelligence hub in the UK capital.

The tech giant said it will start recruiting AI engineers for the hub at Paddington, and is “actively hiring exceptional individuals who want to work on the most interesting and challenging AI questions of our time”, Mustafa Suleyman, chief executive of Microsoft AI, said in a blog post.

The new London hub will be run by Jordan Hoffmann, an AI engineer who worked with Mr Suleyman when they were both at Google DeepMind and Infection AI.

“I’m deeply aware of the extraordinary talent pool and AI ecosystem in the UK,” Mr Suleyman said.

“I know, through my close work with thought leaders in the UK government, business community and academia, that the country is committed to advancing AI responsibly and with a safety-first commitment to drive investment, innovation and economic growth.”

The Microsoft AI London hub adds to the tech giant's existing presence in the UK, which includes the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab.

At the same time, it complements Microsoft’s £2.5 billion investment aimed at upskilling the British workforce for the advent of AI and building the infrastructure to power the AI economy, including bringing 20,000 of the most advanced graphic processors (GPUs) to the UK by 2026.

London attracts AI

Microsoft's move illustrates the growing magnetism of London as a place for the business of advanced technology, and especially AI.

Just last year, ChatGPT developer Open AI made London the destination for its first office outside the US, and relocated its European headquarters from Paris to London.

Meanwhile, the biotech company Recursion Pharmaceuticals announced last month that it will open an AI unit in the King's Cross area of London in June.

In November, the UK hosted the first world AI Summit, with politicians, tech leaders, diplomats and entrepreneurs gathering at the famous Bletchley Park site, where top British codebreakers once cracked Nazi Germany's “Enigma” code.

The summit aimed to take steps to create a set of global guiding principles in the development of AI.

The UK government asked its regulators to publish plans by the end of April for responding to AI risks and opportunities, with instructions to produce binding requirements for most advanced general-purpose AI systems.

In February it said developers building the most advanced AI systems must be accountable for making these technologies sufficiently safe.

Updated: April 09, 2024, 12:09 PM