In an effort to become a global leader in AI safety regulation, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced plans to launch AI scholarships and invest £100 million for an AI taskforce.
This comes as the Premier has also shown his interest of making the UK a global hub for the AI industry. At the same time the AI taskforce has raised concerns about AI safety and the potential risks it may pose to humanity.
Investing £100 million
PM Sunak said the UK government will invest £100 million into cutting edge research through an expert taskforce to ensure responsible and safe use of AI technology in the UK. Also at the core of the plan is education and international collaboration, which is intended to make the country the AI behemoth that the PM envisions.
“I get people are worried about AI. That’s why we are going to do cutting edge safety research here in the UK,” Sunak said in the announcement. The idea is “to ensure that wherever and whenever AI is put to use in the UK it is done safely and responsibly.”
“With £100 million for our AI Taskforce, we are dedicating more funding to AI safety than any other country in the world,” said PM Sunak.
With £100 million for our AI Taskforce, we are dedicating more funding to AI safety than any other country in the world.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) June 12, 2023
Solving healthcare problems with AI
Experts have agreed AI has potential to transform the world from businesses to education, health sector, agriculture as well as arts and entertainment.
Under the UK’s plan with regards scholarships, the government will focus on two fellowships. Their main areas of focus for the fellowships will be using technology to create solutions to tough problems in crop supply as well as in healthcare in a show of the country’s human-centered approach to AI.
“These new fellowships, along with all our work on AI so far, will help build a brighter future for you and your families,” said Sunak.
Collaboration with tech giants
Sunak also indicated the UK government will be partnering with Google’s Deepmind, OpenAI and Anthropic to get early access to their models for research and safety purposes.
“We’ll also work with @DeepMind, @OpenAI and @Anthropic who will give us early or priority access to models for research and safety purposes,” he said on Twitter.
This move by the government comes after the announcement by the UK Labour Party that AI must be regulated and licenses should be obtained by AI companies.
The issue of regulating AI technology has been gaining attention following steps taken by the EU to create laws to govern AI.
Sunak has already pitched the UK as the global leader for AI safety and regulation. Governments are playing catch-up with a sector that has ballooned since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November last year.
“I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation,” Sunak told a tech conference in London on Monday.
Taking it with a pinch of salt
While this announcement might please those that are in favor of AI regulations, some Twitter users were not too amused with the plan. They believe it is better to focus on using AI for innovation first rather than spending on regulation.
“While we talk about safety other countries are innovating and building AI platforms, I’m not suggesting it’s not important but as usual it’s more about optics about leading on something. Why not build and engineer stuff? Innovation will happen much faster than bureaucratic task forces,” one user wrote.
According to a Decrypt report, there is a potential danger when the government has too much access and supervisory power over AI tools, which could lead to institutionalization and creation of AI systems that are politically aligned.
Recently OpenAI CEO Sam Altman implored China, one of the leading countries in AI technology development to help build AI regulatory measures that would ensure safe AI use.