(Bloomberg) -- The UK is starting to draft regulations to govern artificial intelligence, focusing on the most powerful language models which underpin OpenAI’s ChatGPT, people familiar with the matter said. 

Policy officials at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology are in the early stages of devising legislation to limit potential harms caused by the emerging technology, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing undeveloped proposals. No bill is imminent, and the government is likely to wait until France hosts an AI conference either later this year or early next to launch a consultation on the topic, they said. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who hosted the first world leaders’ summit on AI last year and has repeatedly said countries shouldn’t “rush to regulate” AI, risks losing ground to the US and European Union on imposing guardrails on the industry. The EU passed a sweeping law to regulate the technology earlier this year, companies in China need approvals before producing AI services and some US cities and states have passed laws limiting use of AI in specific areas. 

Regulate AI? How US, EU and China Are Going About It: QuickTake

The re-think on AI regulation was first reported by the Financial Times.

Separately, officials at both the technology department and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport have also proposed amending UK copyright legislation to allow companies and individuals to opt out of allowing language models to scrape their content — something of particular concern to the entertainment industry, the people said.

Sunak’s office is yet to decide whether to launch a consultation on the copyright issue, which is separate to the broader legislation on AI being developed by the government, and there remains disagreement between the creative industries and technology firms on the matter, the people said. 

Asked on Monday if the government plans to introduce AI legislation, Sunak’s spokesman, Dave Pares, said that while the UK isn’t in a “rush” to do so, “we’ve always been clear that all countries would eventually need to introduce some form of AI legislation.”

At last year’s UK-hosted AI summit, the US, China and 26 other nations agreed to work together to protect against the potential for artificial intelligence to cause “catastrophic harm.”

(Updates with details of last year’s summit in final paragraph.)

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