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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced that Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic – three technology companies considered world leaders in generative AI technologies – have agreed to provide the United Kingdom with early access to their artificial intelligence models.
Sunak made the announcement while speaking at the opening of London Tech Week, an event described by the organizers as “a global technology celebration bringing together the most innovative thinkers and the talents of tomorrow in a week-long festival.”
He made the comment explaining the three-part plan to ensure the safe and secure deployment of artificial intelligence systems in the UK. According to the transcript of the speech, the first step is to conduct cutting-edge security research:
“We work with leading laboratories – Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic. And I’m happy to announce that they’ve made a commitment to provide early or priority access to research and security models to help us get better estimates and help us better understand the opportunities and risks of these systems.”
The Prime Minister went on to explain that the second step of the UK’s plan is to recognize that AI as a technology does not “respect traditional national boundaries”, requiring the formation of a global task force.
Finally, the third step, according to Sunak, is to invest in both AI and quantum technologies in order to “capture the extraordinary potential of AI to improve people’s lives.” He cited recent investments of $1.125bn and $2.75bn respectively in computing and quantum technology as steps the UK has already taken towards that goal.
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It remains unclear at this time exactly what form of “early or priority” access the UK government will receive, or when such access will be granted.
Google DeepMind, OpenAI, and Anthropic have historically offered beta and limited preview versions of their large language models (Google’s Bard, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and Anthropic’s Claude, for example). All three companies have also invested in both internal testing with company scientists and external testing with contracted experts.
The prime minister did not specify whether the UK would have earlier access to production models than the general public or contractors, or whether the obligation was simply to give access to the government as well as other priority researchers.
These comments come at a time when the UK regulators are very active. Not only is parliament seeking to provide comprehensive protections to citizens due to the recent boom in generative AI, it is also facing increasing pressure to regulate cryptocurrencies, blockchain and Web3 technologies.