UK and US to partner on safety testing AI models

3 April 2024, 10:54

Institute for Public Policy Research analysis
Institute for Public Policy Research analysis. Picture: PA

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan has signed an agreement that will see the UK and US AI Safety Institutes work closely together.

The UK has signed an agreement with the US that will see the two countries’ AI Safety Institutes work together to test emerging AI models.

The Memorandum of Understanding will see the two align their scientific approaches and exchange information and personnel, as well as carry out joint testing exercises on AI models.

The announcement follows a commitment made at the AI Safety Summit, held at Bletchley Park last November, when major AI firms in attendance such as OpenAI and Google DeepMind, agreed to a voluntary scheme that would allow AI safety institutes to evaluate and test new AI models before they were released.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) said the new partnership with the US would take effect immediately, and that the collaboration would help governments keep pace with the emerging risks around AI as it continues to develop rapidly.

DSIT said similar partnerships with other countries were also planned in the future.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “This agreement represents a landmark moment, as the UK and the United States deepen our enduring special relationship to address the defining technology challenge of our generation.”

“We have always been clear that ensuring the safe development of AI is a shared global issue. Only by working together can we address the technology’s risks head-on and harness its enormous potential to help us all live easier and healthier lives.

Cabinet meeting
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan (Lucy North/PA)

“The work of our two nations in driving forward AI safety will strengthen the foundations we laid at Bletchley Park in November, and I have no doubt that our shared expertise will continue to pave the way for countries tapping into AI’s enormous benefits safely and responsibly.”

Gina Raimondo, US secretary of commerce, said: “AI is the defining technology of our generation. This partnership is going to accelerate both of our Institutes’ work across the full spectrum of risks, whether to our national security or to our broader society.

“Our partnership makes clear that we aren’t running away from these concerns – we’re running at them. Because of our collaboration, our Institutes will gain a better understanding of AI systems, conduct more robust evaluations, and issue more rigorous guidance.

“By working together, we are furthering the long-lasting special relationship between the US and UK and laying the groundwork to ensure that we’re keeping AI safe both now and in the future.”

AI safety summit
Rishi Sunak said the AI Safety Summit would ‘tip the balance in favour of humanity’ whilst Elon Musk has described it as ‘one of the biggest threats’ (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Speaking in November last year, Rishi Sunak said the AI Safety Summit would “tip the balance in favour of humanity” in reference to the agreement with AI firms to vet their new models.

The Prime Minister said “binding requirements” would likely be needed to regulate the technology, but now is the time to move quickly without laws.

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform X, has also described AI as “one of the biggest threats” facing humanity.

The Government announced in February that more than £100 million will be spent preparing the UK to regulate AI and use the technology safely, including helping to prepare and upskill regulators across different sectors.

Ministers have chosen to use existing regulators to take on the role of monitoring AI use within their own sectors rather than creating a new, central regulator dedicated to the emerging technology.

By Press Association

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