British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the media during London Tech Week at the QEII Center on June 12, 2023.
Ian Vogler | Wpa pool | Getty Images
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a big show of attention to the tech community on Monday, calling the UK a global center for artificial intelligence and regulation of the technology.
“We need to act and act fast if we want to not only maintain our position as one of the world’s technology capitals, but go even further and make this country the best country in the world to start, grow and invest in technology businesses,” Sunak said in a speech to a packed technology conference in London.
“I feel a sense of urgency and responsibility to make sure we see things through because one of my five priorities is to grow our economy. And the more we innovate, the more we grow.”
“I want the UK to be not only the home of intellectuals, but also the geographical home of global AI safety regulation,” Sunak added.
The UK is looking to compete with the global giants in the AI arena, one of the most hyped areas of tech today with the arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other generative AI tools.
Separately, the country also presents itself as “another Silicon Valley‘, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt making several reforms to the country’s financial regulations to encourage more venture capital investment and listings of high-growth technology firms.
Most of the most commercially advanced work around this technology comes from the US, with major companies such as Microsoft-supported by OpenAI and other tech giants such as Google (which bought British AI company DeepMind in 2014) a Targetwhich is a huge investment especially in generative artificial intelligence.
However, the UK is trying to take its own measures to be more of a leader in the world of artificial intelligence. The government published a white paper in March detailing its plan for AI regulation, which sought to take a principles-based approach to the technology rather than proposing new, tailored regulations.
Sunak last week announced the first global summit on AI security in the UK later this year to make a bold commitment to Britain’s position in the global regulatory discourse around the technology as officials in the US, the European Union and beyond scramble to gain control of the technology. AI.
Last month, the CEOs of OpenAI, Google DeepMind and Anthropic visited the UK and spoke to the Prime Minister about their approach to ensuring safe AI development. AI leaders are trying to convince officials that they keep security in mind when creating advanced AI models.
Currently, there is no specific regulation for artificial intelligence in any major developed country. The European Union is trying to change that with an EU law on artificial intelligence, which lawmakers are due to vote on in parliament later this week. But those are laws that probably won’t go into effect until a long time into the future.
The UK has seen some of its most respected tech firms on the ground as a tech start-up location, with critical Cambridge firm Arm opting to list in New York over London earlier this year and Revolut’s CEO saying, that they will “never rank” in London, referring to the unfavorable tax regime and bureaucratic regulation.
On Monday, Sunak defied naysayers about the UK’s tech prospects. In an interview with Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, Sunak said Britain was “already a great place to expand a technology business”.
“Over the last decade, [there have been] more unicorns in this country than anywhere other than the US and China. I think it’s a pretty good record and a good base to start from, but obviously we’ve got to keep improving, we’ve got to push ourselves.”
“Something like half of all our fastest-growing innovation businesses have a foreign-born founder, so that tells you that you need a visa system that attracts the best and brightest to the UK, and I think we’ve got one.”
Hassabis, who recently was promoted to lead Google’s AI research effortshe said he has seen the culture around business support in the UK change over the years.
“When we started DeepMind in 2010, things were very different. I remember our first investors who were from the US, and we had to go to the US to get our first investment, a bit suspicious of whether you could build huge deep-tech companies anywhere but Silicon Valley.
“I think it’s a lot easier to start and grow, very difficult and very meaningful, technology companies. So, you know, it’s been great to see that I think there’s a huge opportunity to come here.”