Rishi Sunak vows to tackle 'dangers' around AI as landmark paper published

Rishi Sunak has vowed to tackle fears around artificial intelligence (AI) "head-on" as the government prepares to host a world-first global safety summit.

The prime minister has made taking advantage of the fast-improving technology, while also regulating against its potential dangers, a focus since taking office last year.

In a speech on Thursday, he announced he would establish the world's first AI safety institute in the UK to explore "all the risks - from social harms like bias and misinformation, through to the most extreme risks".

And he said their work would be shared around the world, for both "moral" and "economic" benefits.

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Mr Sunak's pledges came as the government published a first-of-its-kind paper into its capabilities and risks.

The prime minister acknowledged the "dangers and fears" AI brings - with concerns around misinformation and deepfakes, job losses, and a threat to human life itself all cited by experts in recent months.

In his speech, he said that while the technology offered opportunities for economic growth and advances in human capability, it also brought new challenges.

"The responsible thing for me to do is to address those fears head-on," he said.

"Giving you the peace of mind that we will keep you safe, while making sure you and your children have all the opportunities for a better future that AI can bring."

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Highlighting the positives of the technology, the prime minister pledged a further £100m of investment to "accelerate the use of AI on the most transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases", such as aggressive cancers and dementia.

He added: "I believe nothing in our foreseeable future will be more transformative for our economy, our society and all our lives than this technology. But in this moment, it is also one of the greatest tests of leadership we face.

"It would be easy to bury our heads in the sand and hope that it'll turn out all right in the end, to decide it's all too difficult or that the risks of political failure are too great to put short term demands ahead of the long term interests of the country.

"But I won't do that. I'll do the right thing, not the easy thing. I'll always be honest with you about the risks. And you can trust me to make the right long term decisions."

Next week's AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, home of Britain's Second World War codebreakers, will see other world leaders and tech bosses unite to discuss how the technology should be regulated.

It will focus on the misuse of it, such as to carry out cyberattacks or develop bioweapons, and the threats posed by the loss of control of AI.

Talks will also cover its impact on wider society, such as in elections.

Mr Sunak defended inviting China to the summit, despite criticism from some on his own backbenches, saying it was "not an easy decision... but I do believe it is the right thing".

The prime minister added: "China is unquestionably the world's second AI power behind the US, that's just a fact.

"And AI doesn't respect borders, so if you are seriously trying to address this issue, it is right to try and engage with AI's leading powers."

Mr Sunak has already met several leading figures working in AI development, including the bosses of ChatGPT creator OpenAI and UK-based Google DeepMind.

Thursday's paper, which includes assessments from UK intelligence agencies, will form part of the discussions.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan will open the summit next Wednesday, 1 November.