LONDON (AP) — As authorities around the world scramble to draw up guardrails for artificial intelligence, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned Thursday against moving too fast on regulating the rapidly developing technology before it’s fully understood.
Sunak warned about acting too quickly even as he outlined a host of risks that AI could bring, from making it easier to build chemical or biological weapons to its use by terrorist groups to spread fear, or by criminals to carry out cyberattacks or fraud. He said AI has the potential to transform life but it should be a global priority to mitigate the risks of human extinction it could bring, similar to pandemics and nuclear war.
Governments are the only ones able to keep people safe from AI’s risks, and it shouldn’t be left up to the tech companies developing it, he said in a speech ahead of a summit he’s hosting next week on AI safety.
AI developers, who “don’t always fully understand what their models could become capable of,” should not be “marking their own homework,” Sunak said.
“Only governments can properly assess the risks to national security. And only nation states have the power and legitimacy to keep their people safe,” he said.
However, “the UK’s answer is not to rush to regulate,” he said. “How can we write laws that make sense for something we don’t yet fully understand?”
Authorities are racing to rein in artificial intelligence amid the recent rise of general purpose AI systems such as ChatGPT that have generated excitement and fear.
Sunak’s U.K. AI Safety Summit is focused on the risks from so-called frontier artificial intelligence – cutting edge systems that can carry out a wide range of tasks but could contain unknown risks to public safety and security. These systems are underpinned by large language models, which are trained on vast pools of text and data.
One of the summit’s goals is to “push hard” for the first ever international statement about the nature of AI risks, Sunak said.
Sunak also announced plans to set up an AI Safety Institute to examine, evaluate and test new types of artificial intelligence. And he proposed establishing a global expert panel, inspired by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to understand the technology and draw up a “State of AI Science” report.