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UK offers £8.5m for AI safety research grants

AI research grants
Image credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street / Flickr

The UK government will offer up to £8.5m worth of research grants for projects tackling risks associated with AI.

Tech Secretary Michelle Donelan said the AI research grants would be awarded to projects studying areas including deepfakes, cyberattacks and increasing productivity with AI.

The programme will be led by the government’s AI Safety Institute (AISI), which this week announced its plans to expand internationally with an office in San Francisco.

The funds will be delivered in partnership with AISI, UK Research and Innovation and the Alan Turing Institute. The AISI also intends to further collaborate with international AI safety bodies.

In April, the AISI and its US counterpart announced plans to conduct a joint safety testing exercise.

Donelan described the new grant funding plan as “phase 2” of the tech department’s plan “to safely harness the opportunities of AI… across the whole of society”.

Donelan said: “This is exactly what we are making possible with this funding which will allow our Institute to partner with academia and industry to ensure we continue to be proactive in developing new approaches that can help us ensure AI continues to be a transformative force for good.”

Suzan Sakarya, senior manager, EMEIA security strategy at software company Jamf, said: “The new AI research grant shows the UK government’s commitment to improve AI security standards and safety across the board.

“The relationship between academia, public sector and private sector is critical when exploring the risks posed by new technologies, and AI is no different.”

The grants were announced during the second day of the AI Seoul Summit, co-hosted by the UK and the Republic of Korea.

On day one of the summit, 16 global AI labs agreed to publish safety frameworks for AI models.

The Seoul summit has been a less grand affair than last year’s AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, with several leaders – notably from China – not present at the follow-up.

Gaby Diamant, CEO of tech research firm Bridgewise told UKTN: “Although Seoul will be a smaller summit than Bletchley Park last year, it is vital that governments and industry leaders continue to engage in regular, open dialogue to ensure responsible innovation of AI.”

Read more: Seoul summit must spotlight AI inclusivity crisis