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Sunak wants UK to be ‘geographical home of global AI safety’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak discusses AI regulation at London Tech Week.
Image credit: London Tech Week

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he wants to make the UK the “geographical home of global AI safety regulation” amid warnings that the technology could pose a risk to humanity alongside pandemics and nuclear war.

Speaking at London Tech Week, Sunak said the “tectonic plates are shifting not just in AI but in quantum, synthetic biology, semiconductors and much more”.

His comments come weeks after researchers and business leaders warned that AI posed a genuine risk of human “extinction” in the wake of rapid advances in large language models like ChatGPT.

“The very pioneers of AI are warning us about the ways in which these technologies could undermine our values and freedoms, through to the most extreme risks of all,” Sunak told a maximum capacity crowd at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

Sunak then reiterated his goal of making the UK a global leader in AI safety and regulation, stating that the UK is approaching this by conducting “cutting edge safety research”, funded by the £100m generative AI taskforce unveiled last month.

He added that “frontier labs” such as Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic have agreed to give “early or priority access to models for research and safety purposes”.

Sunak added that AI “doesn’t respect traditional borders”. Last week, the government announced it will organise the first global AI summit this autumn to develop a “shared approach” for addressing problems associated with the technology.

“I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation,” Sunak said.

Sunak added that the UK will “seize the extraordinary potential of AI to improve people’s lives”.

He pointed to use cases in education and the NHS, adding that “AI can help us achieve the holy grail of public service reform”.

Sunak’s London Tech Week comments come after the government unveiled several billion pounds in tech investments since the Budget.

Alongside the £100m generative AI taskforce, they include £900m for supercomputing power, a £2.5bn quantum computing funding boost and a £1bn semiconductor strategy.

The UKTN team will be reporting from London Tech Week throughout the event. Subscribe to the daily newsletter to stay up to date.