Sunak discusses rules to limit risk of AI with tech leaders

AI technology has potential to 'positively transform humanity', UK Prime Minister says

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Reuters
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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met leading figures in artificial intelligence on Wednesday evening to discuss the need for regulation to ease risks posed by the technology.

Mr Sunak met chief executives from ChatGPT firm OpenAI, Google Deepmind and Anthropic to discuss concerns.

AI is the “defining technology of the time” with the potential to “positively transform humanity”, he said.

But a joint statement from the meeting acknowledged that the technology’s success is contingent on having the “right guardrails” in place so the public can be confident it is safe.

Mr Sunak told OpenAI’s Sam Altman, Google’s Demis Hassabis and Anthropic’s Dario Amodei that the regulation must be agile and co-ordinated internationally.

“The PM and CEOs discussed the risks of the technology, ranging from disinformation and national security, to existential threats,” their statement said.

“They discussed safety measures, voluntary actions that labs are considering to manage the risks, and the possible avenues for international collaboration on AI safety and regulation.”

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Mr Sunak has advocated the technology’s benefits for national security and the economy, but growing concerns have been raised with the prominence of the ChatGPT bot.

Jobs are also being put at risk by the rapidly evolving technology.

Last week, BT Group said it would cut up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade, with plans to shift to AI and automated services.

Former government chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that AI could have an effect on jobs comparable to the industrial revolution.

This month, Geoffrey Hinton, the man widely regarded as the godfather of AI, warned some of the dangers of AI chatbots are “quite scary” as he quit his job at Google.

Mr Sunak has been hardening his tone towards AI.

The government’s policy paper on the technology published less than two months ago was titled A Pro-innovation Approach to AI Regulation.

Updated: May 24, 2023, 10:40 PM

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