The 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 UK with early access to their AI models.
Sunak made the announcement during a speech by opening of London Tech Week, an event described by the organizers as “a global celebration of technology, bringing together tomorrow’s most innovative thinkers and talent for a week-long festival.”
He made the comment while outlining a three-part plan to ensure AI systems in the UK are deployed securely. The first step, according to the speech transcript, is to conduct state-of-the-art security research:
“We are working with the frontier labs: Google DeepMind, OpenAI, and Anthropic. And I’m pleased to announce that they have committed to giving early or priority access to models for research and security purposes to help build better assessments and help us better understand the opportunities and risks of these systems.”
The Prime Minister then explained that the second step of the UK plan is the recognition that AI, as a technology, “does not respect traditional national borders”, so the formation of a global task force is necessary.
Finally, the third step, according to Sunak, is invest in both AI and quantum to “harness the extraordinary potential of AI to improve people’s lives”. He cited recent investments of USD 1.125 million and USD 2.75 billion, for computing and quantum technologies, respectively, as steps the UK had already taken towards achieving this goal.
At the moment it is not clear what kind of “early or priority” access the British government will get and when it will be granted.
Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic have offered historically betas and limited preview versions of their big language models (such as Google’s Bard, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and Anthropic’s Claude). The three companies have also invested in both internal testing with company scientists and in evidence external with contracted experts.
The Prime Minister did not make it clear whether the UK would gain access to production models before the general public or contractors, or whether the commitment was simply to provide access to the government as well as other priority researchers.
These comments come at a very active time for UK regulatory efforts. Parliament is not only rushing to introduce comprehensive protections for citizens in connection with the recent boom in generative AI, but is also facing increasing pressure to regulate cryptocurrency, blockchain and Web3 technologies.
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