Britain will host the world’s first summit on artificial intelligence later this year, in a bid to broker a common approach by countries to limit the technology’s potential doomsday risks while harnessing its potential, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Wednesday.
“AI has an incredible potential to transform our lives for the better. But we need to make sure it is developed and used in a way that is safe and secure,” Sunak said in Washington ahead of White House talks with US President Joe Biden on Thursday.
“Time and time again throughout history, we have invented paradigm-shifting new technologies and we have harnessed them for the good of humanity. That is what we must do again.”
The summit is expected to take place in the autumn and will gather “like-minded countries” to shape a regulatory response, Sunak’s spokesman said, following a G7 call for action in Japan last month.
The spokesman denied that the summit was intended as a counterweight to efforts to exploit AI for authoritarian ends by the likes of China and Russia.
But while post-Brexit Britain looks also to host a future world regulator for AI, the United States and European Union are already forging ahead with their own direct dialogue on the rapidly evolving technology.
Sunak denied that the UK risked being squeezed out.
“I think we should have confidence in our country being a leader when it comes to AI because that’s what the facts demonstrate,” he told the BBC in Washington.
“If you look at the number of companies, the amount invested, the quality of our research, other than the US, there’s no other democratic country that has that strength in AI.”
At 43, Sunak is nearly half the age of the 80-year-old Biden – but he denied that the US president was out of touch with the new technology, after one UK advisor warned it could wipe out humanity within two years.
“Well actually, we discussed artificial intelligence when we were in Japan together with the president (at the G7) and I know he is also aware of the challenges and opportunities that it poses,” Sunak told Britain’s TalkTV ahead of their summit.
“But also I know the president is thinking about the threats that our countries face into the future and making sure that we work together to protect our countries against them,” he said, indicating US support for the upcoming UK summit.