UK to spend $125m on AI research and regulation

Technology minister says technology has potential to ‘transform our public services and the economy for the better’.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sought to position his country as a global leader in AI regulation [File: Justin Tallis/Pool via Reuters]Published On 6 Feb 20246 Feb 2024

The United Kingdom has unveiled plans to spend over 100 million pounds ($125m) on research and training related to artificial intelligence (AI).

Under the plans announced on Tuesday, the government will launch nine new AI research hubs across the UK, support research projects examining the responsible use of AI in education, policing and creative industries, and train regulators on managing the risks and benefits of the technology.

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Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said AI had the potential to “transform our public services and the economy for the better” and produce treatments for diseases like cancer and dementia.

“AI is moving fast, but we have shown that humans can move just as fast. By taking an agile, sector-specific approach, we have begun to grip the risks immediately, which in turn is paving the way for the UK to become one of the first countries in the world to reap the benefits of AI safely,” Donelan said in a statement.

The announcement comes after the UK in November launched the world’s first institute dedicated to AI safety and hosted a global summit on the topic, at which more than 25 countries signed the so-called Bletchley Declaration acknowledging the technology’s risks of “serious, even catastrophic, harm”.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sought to position his country as a leader in AI regulation, arguing that only governments can properly assess the risks of the technology and possess the “power and legitimacy to keep their people safe”.

Executives at leading players in AI, including Microsoft, Google and Amazon, welcomed the government’s announcement.

“The hub and spoke model will help the UK benefit from the domain expertise of regulators, as well as provide clarity to the AI ecosystem – and I’m particularly supportive of the commitment to support regulators with further resources,”  Google DeepMind’s Chief Operating Officer Lila Ibrahim said in a statement.

“AI represents an opportunity to drive progress for humanity, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure that the UK can continue to be a global leader in AI research and set the standard for good regulation.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies