(Bloomberg) -- UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said the West must engage in talks with China over how best to regulate the growth of artificial intelligence, as Britain prepared to warn at the United Nations that AI risks destabilizing the world order.
“They won’t come to all the discussions, but you need to have a dialog with countries like China, they’re not going away,” Hunt said in a Bloomberg TV interview late Thursday. “We have to be realistic and we have to have those discussions with our eyes open.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is preparing to host the first global summit on AI in November, as he tries to position Britain as a global leader in regulation of the technology. His government confirmed this week it has invited China to the conference, despite opposition from some of Sunak’s own Tory MPs.
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In a speech to the UN General Assembly late Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden will welcome the potential of AI in areas like fighting climate change and tackling diseases but warn that its rapid development threatens to outstrip any government’s ability to regulate it.
The “necessary guardrails, regulation and governance must be developed in a parallel process with the technological progress,” he is expected to say. “Yet, at the moment, global regulation is falling behind current advances.”
Dowden will also call on countries not to become “trapped in debates” about whether AI is “a tool for good or a tool for ill — it will be a tool for both.”
London is already the base of various unicorns in the field of generative AI, such as Stability AI, an open-source developer, and Synthesia, a creator of text-to-video tools. It’s also home to Alphabet Inc.’s DeepMind, and Britain hopes it can become a technology superpower in this area.
However, the UK faces skepticism that it can compete with the likes of the US, China and the European Union.
“Investors want to see that governments have figured all this stuff out,” Hunt said of the regulation around AI, adding that appropriate “guardrails” should be put in place to keep the technology safe. “Then when they do, they’re going to start to put in really huge sums of money,” he said.
(Updates with context and quotes from first paragraph.)
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