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Heads of AI Safety Summit announced by government

The AI safety summit was announced by Rishi Sunak in June. The new leads will have to wrangle government's and organisations.

By Ryan Morrison

A leading academic and a CEO will head up the upcoming global AI Safety Research summit in the UK later this year. Announced by Rishi Sunak in June, the event will see government’s, researchers and companies meet to discuss how to develop AI in a safe and secure way, according to a statement from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT.) It comes as the government revealed £13m for AI health projects earlier today.

Staff in hard hats and high-visibility uniforms working with the assistance of AI.
AI safety research is the centre of the new summit planned for later this year in the UK (Photo by Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)

DSIT confirmed that Matt Clifford, CEO of Entrepreneur First and Jonathan Black, Heywood Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, will lead the event. Their first job will be to convince nations, top AI labs and experts in the field to sign up for the summit this autumn.

Both have previous public sector experience in either international or agency roles. Clifford is the chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) while Black is a former UK G7 & G20 Sherpa and deputy national security adviser. The pair will act as representatives for the Prime Minister at the event which, says DSIT, will include coordinating efforts to ensure it results in the ‘development of a shared approach to mitigating the risks of AI.

Since the launch of the OpenAI chatbot ChatGPT in November last year, countries and AI labs alike have been looking at how to best regulate the technology. Its spectacular popularity of generative AI in recent months has led companies like Microsoft, Google and Salesforce to embrace the technology, even as concerns spread as to the risk this shift poses toward jobs, security and the survival of humanity itself.

While countries like the EU are taking a risk-based, prescriptive approach to AI regulation, the US and the UK have focused more on driving innovation. This has included securing voluntary agreements from the major labs like OpenAI, Anthropic and Google DeepMind to make their latest and most powerful models available to researchers for safety analysis.

The UK’s forthcoming AI summit is designed to cement some of these ad-hoc agreements and create a global approach to both regulation and AI safety. It is expected there will also be input from the government’s foundation model AI taskforce. The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, said the UK has a history of diplomatic leadership on important issues. “We’re already a leading nation when it comes to artificial intelligence,” she said. “This summit will help cement our position as the home of safe innovation.”

Funding for AI health projects

Final dates for the summit are expected to be announced soon. As well as confirming the heads of the summit, Donelan also announced that £13m in government funding had been split between 22 AI-related health research projects. These are designed to deliver new innovations across diagnostics and surgery across the NHS, with money going to NHS Trusts and universities up and down the UK.

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One of the projects is a new real-time AI ‘assisted decision support framework’ to improve surgical outcomes, which aims at reducing complications following surgery and making the recovery time shorter for patients. Another will see the development of a new foundation AI model for clinical risk prediction. This could determine the likelihood of future health problems based on a patient’s previous medical history and existing conditions.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said AI can be used to improve patient outcomes through earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments and faster recovery. He has previously called for the use of AI to improve efficiencies in the service. “It’s already being used in the NHS in a number of areas, from improving diagnosis and treatment for stroke patients to identifying those most at risk of a heart attack,” said Barclay.

Freeman added: “While the projects are diverse, they are all borne out of a motivation by the UK’s ambitious and world-leading research sector to innovate on one of the most pressing technological developments of our time, for which we are proud to back them.”

Read more: UK to host global AI summit

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