UK PM unveils landmark’ AI models safety testing pact


Declaring the AI Safety Summit a “historic achievement”, Sunak says the discussions will help tip the balance in favour of humanity and secure AI’s benefits…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday concluded the two-day AI Safety Summit with what he characterised as a “landmark” agreement with governments and artificial intelligence companies to work together on testing new AI models before they are released into the public domain.

Addressing a press conference at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire to summarise the achievements of the first summit of its kind hosted by the UK, Sunak said the agreement was reached along with US Vice-President Kamala Harris who has committed to setting up an American AI Safety Institute to work alongside its UK counterpart.

It builds on the Bletchley Declaration clinched between 28 countries, including India, on the shared responsibility to address the risks associated with AI agreed on day one of the two-day summit on Wednesday.

“Like-minded governments and AI companies have today reached a landmark agreement. We will work together on testing the safety of new AI models before they are released,” Sunak told reporters.

“This partnership is based around a series of principles which set out the responsibilities we share and it’s made possible by the decision I have taken, along with Vice-President Kamala Harris, for the British and American governments to establish world-leading AI Safety Institutes,” he said.

Declaring the AI Safety Summit a “historic achievement” by the UK to take the lead on this generation’s most “transformative” change, Sunak said the discussions will help tip the balance in favour of humanity and secure AI’s benefits for the long-term.

He also revealed that South Korea and France have offered to host the two following summits in future. As part of the outcomes, it was announced that Canadian computer scientist Yoshua Bengio, dubbed the “godfather of AI”, will chair the production of an inaugural report into the technology.

“Yesterday we agreed and published the first-ever international statement about the nature of all of those risks. It was signed by every single nation represented by this summit, covering all continents across the globe and including the United States and China. Some said we shouldn’t even invite China, others said that we could never get an agreement with them. Both were wrong,” said Sunak, with reference to the Bletchley Declaration.

It has also been confirmed that the Frontier AI Taskforce set up earlier by the UK government will now evolve to become the AI Safety Institute, with Ian Hogarth continuing as its Chair. The External Advisory Board for the taskforce, made up of industry heavyweights from national security to computer science, will continue as advisors of the new global hub.

‘AI is the most destructive force in history’

Deadly robots that can climb trees, AI friends and a work-less future were among the topics as Rishi Sunak sat down with Elon Musk.

The prime minister held a highly unusual “in conversation” event with the billionaire X and Tesla owner at the end of this week’s summit on artificial intelligence. Throughout the wide-ranging and chummy discussion, Musk held court as the prime minister asked most of the questions.

The pair talked about how London was a leading hub for the AI industry and how the technology could transform learning. But the chat took some darker turns too, with Sunak recognising the “anxiety” people have about jobs being replaced, and the pair agreeing on the need for a “referee” to keep an eye on the super-computers of the future.

Tech investor and inventor Musk has put money into AI firms and has employed the technology in his driverless Tesla cars – but he’s also on the record about his fears it could threaten society and human existence itself.

“There is a safety concern, especially with humanoid robots – at least a car can’t chase you into a building or up a tree,” he told the audience. Sunak – who is keen to see investment in the UK’s growing tech industry – replied: “You’re not selling this.”

It’s not every day you see the prime minister of a country interviewing a businessman like this, but Sunak seemed happy to play host to his famous guest.

And if he seemed like he was enjoying it, it should be no surprise – he previously lived in California, home to Silicon Valley, and his love of all things tech is well-documented. In a hall that size, Musk was difficult to hear and mumbled through his elaborate musings about the future, but refrained from any off-the-cuff remarks that might have caused Downing Street embarrassment.

The pair discussed the potential benefits of AI, with Musk saying: “One of my sons has trouble making friends and an AI friend would be great for him.” There was also agreement on the possibilities AI presents for young people’s learning, with Musk saying it could be “the best and most patient tutor”.

But there was a stark warning on the potentially ruinous impact it could have on traditional jobs.

“We are seeing the most destructive force in history here,” Musk said, before speculating: “There will come a point where no job is needed – you can have a job if you want one for personal satisfaction but AI will do everything. “It’s both good and bad – one of the challenges in the future will be how do we find meaning in life.”

Musk was one of the star guests at this week’s summit – but it briefly looked like the event with Sunak might be a little overshadowed.

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