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UK to push firms on safety in AI models at Seoul summit

UK to push firms on safety in AI models at Seoul summit
Cutting edge applications of Artificial Intelligence are seen on display at the Artificial Intelligence Pavilion of Zhangjiang Future Park during a state organized media tour on June 18, 2021 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

The UK government said it would use a major summit in South Korea this week to make a fresh push on reducing the risks around artificial intelligence, putting an onus on firms to develop AI responsibly.

“There will be some agreements that we broker,” Britain’s secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, Michelle Donelan, said in an interview ahead of a key summit in Seoul. “We’ll be going to ask companies how they can go even further in showing they’ve built safety into the release of their models.” 

The UK has sought to take a position of global leadership on managing the risks and opportunities around the development of the emerging technology, hosting a summit on AI safety last year as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has tried to make the issue part of his political legacy. The Seoul event, which will have representatives from countries including China, the US, India and Canada, marks the latest round of high-level ministerial talks.

Yet some diverging approaches have already emerged between major nations: while the UK has not wanted to “rush to regulate”, the EU passed a sweeping law that placed guardrails on the technology earlier this year and some US cities and states have already passed laws limiting the use of AI in specific areas.

Donelan defended Britain’s approach thus far, saying the government has prioritized getting to grips with the risks posed by AI and encouraging an international focus on the issue, such as through the Bletchley summit. She also said any legislation passed in the UK would’ve been out of date by the time it came into force.

“We want to lean in and support innovation,” Donelan said, as the British government also announced a new overseas office in San Francisco focused on AI safety. “There will always be slightly different approaches, what we want is commonality in taking this seriously.”

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