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DSIT appoints Entrepreneur First chief to lead AI safety summit

Clifford AI safety summit
Image credit: thinkhubstudio / Shutterstock

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has appointed Entrepreneur First CEO Matt Clifford and Jonathan Black from the Blavatnik School of Government to lead preparations for the UK’s first AI safety summit.

The pair will be responsible for “rallying leading AI nations, companies and experts” ahead of the government’s AI safety summit this autumn.

Clifford co-founded Entrepreneur First, an investment firm in 2011. It raised £130m last year to invest in the “next generation of tech founders”. Aside from Entrepreneur First, Clifford is the chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency.

Prior to joining the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, Black was deputy national security adviser and UK G7 & G20 Sherpa.

“The UK has a proud history of demonstrating diplomatic leadership on the most important issues of the day and Matt and Jonathan’s experience and expertise means that they are perfectly placed to lay the groundwork ahead of talks this year on safe and responsible AI,” said Tech Secretary Michelle Donelan.

It is the latest example of the government turning to the private sector for AI expertise. Earlier this year, it appointed tech entrepreneur and investor Ian Hogarth to chair its AI taskforce, which is backed by £100m, and report directly to the prime minister and tech secretary.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak first set out plans for the UK to host the first global AI safety summit in June. Sunak has stated he wants to make the UK the “geographical home of global AI safety regulation”.

However, a report from the Ada Lovelace Institute found that the government’s AI white paper falls short of meeting industry and consumer needs.

Funding for AI research

Separately, Donelan unveiled £13m in funding for healthcare research focusing on AI for 22 universities and NHS trust projects across the UK.

Areas in healthcare that could benefit from the integration of AI are faster diagnosis, better treatments and speedier recoveries, said Steve Barclay, health and social care secretary.

“It’s already being used in the NHS in a number of areas, from improving diagnosis and treatment for stroke patients to identifying those most at risk of a heart attack,” Barclay said.

Over £500,000 of the AI healthcare funding is going to the University College London’s Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences, which is looking into brain tumour applications.

The University of Oxford has received £640,000 to support its work into how AI could predict the likelihood of future health problems from prior conditions.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, said: “AI will fundamentally alter every aspect of human life. As AI rapidly evolves, we need a global approach that seizes the opportunities that AI poses while grasping the challenges and minimising the risks.”

Read more: UK race to lead on AI regulation poses startup challenges