Rishi Sunak has delivered a “stark warning” to the British public about the threat posed to humanity by AI, but also said it could help solve some of society’s most pressing challenges.
Speaking from Downing Street this morning, Mr Sunak set out that failing to regulate Artificial Intelligence could “make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons”.
He also warned that terrorist groups “could use AI to spread fear and disruption on an even greater scale”.
Mr Sunak added criminals could exploit AI for cyber attacks, disinformation, fraud and even child sexual abuse.
In scenes more akin to a nightmarish Sci-fi movie, the Prime Minister said that in extreme cases, there is “even the risk that humanity could lose control of AI completely, through the kind of AI sometimes referred to as “super intelligence”.
READ MORE: Sunak to reassure public over AI as experts warn of existential threat
He added that he does not want people to be “losing sleep over this right now” nor did he want to be “alarmist”.
Ahead of his forthcoming global AI summit, Mr Sunak announced the UK will establish the world’s first AI safety institute, advancing the world’s knowledge of AI safety and “carefully examine, evaluate and test new types of AI so that we understand what each new model is capable of”.
“The British people should have peace of mind that we’re developing the most advanced protections for AI of any country in the world. Doing what’s right and necessary to keep you safe”.
The speech wasn’t all doom and gloom, however, with Mr Sunak saying AI could be used to solve some of the biggest challenges we face.
He said examples could include achieving nuclear fusion, solving world hunger by preventing crop failure, creating new dementia treatments and developing vaccines against cancer.
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In the shorter term, Mr Sunak said Brits shouldn’t be worried about AI taking jobs, comparing the tech to a ‘co-pilot’.
Asked what support would be made available to those whose jobs could be taken by AI, such as administration, Mr Sunak said: “It’s important to recognise AI doesn’t just automate and take people’s jobs”.
“A better way to think about it is as a co-pilot, so for someone doing a job what AI can do is provide assistance to that person so they can do their job better; focus on doing one particular part of it and have AI do some of the more mundane bits.
“So actually that’s what we’re seeing in the welfare example I gave, where our caseworkers get benefits from AI where the AI is helping them to do their casework, put things together so they can do their job far faster, more productively crack through the backlogs or identify more benefit fraud.
“So thinking about it more as a co-pilot I think should reassure people that it is not something to worry about.”
Mr Sunak added that AI will change the UK labour market, and over time make the economy “more productive, more prosperous and create more growth”.
Mr Sunak said the UK Government is to invest almost £1 billion in a super computer, thousands of times faster than the ones Brits have at home.
This is as well as a £2.5 billion investment in quantum computers, which can solve the most complex maths problems in 200 seconds, which would take the world’s faster super computer 10,000 years to complete.
He said the Government will make its computing power research available to private sector researchers and business, which will encourage global entrepreneurs to set up shop in Britain.
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