UK Deputy PM Oliver Dowden warns of AI’s global risks

September 23, 2023

AI regulation UK

UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is set to caution the international community about the potential of AI to destabilize the global order. 

Addressing the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, Dowden will emphasize the urgency of regulating AI as its rapid development could surpass governmental capacities to ensure its safety.

The UK is gearing up to host the global AI Safety Summit in November, focusing on AI regulation. 

Dowden will state, “The starting gun has been fired on a globally competitive race in which individual companies as well as countries will strive to push the boundaries as far and fast as possible.” 

He will further highlight that global regulation is lagging behind the current advancements in AI. AI’s extreme pace of development is making the technology tough to capture through laws and regulations. 

Dowden will stress that AI companies should not be left to “mark their own homework,” emphasizing the need for governments and citizens to be confident that AI-associated risks are adequately addressed. 

However, Dowden will also caution against viewing AI strictly as a force for good or evil, noting that “it will be a tool for both.” AI’s dual-use nature also complicates the mechanics of regulation, as the algorithms required to ‘do good’ may also be those that can inflict harm. 

Warner also noted the shift in the discourse around AI safety, stating that this topic was largely ignored a few years ago. 

Several leading AI companies are in agreement about the need for regulation. The US’s first AI Insight Forum took place this month and saw mutual agreement from attendees across the AI industry, including Elon Musk and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. 

However, Yasmin Afina, a research fellow at Chatham House, told the BBC that reaching a swift international agreement on AI will be challenging. She compared the complexity of AI to nuclear weapons, noting the lengthy negotiations required for nuclear agreements. 

Afina also emphasized the importance of including marginalized communities and smaller countries in these discussions to ensure they are not sidelined. The vast majority of conversations surrounding AI regulation focus on China, the US, and Europe. 

Warner, who was part of the now-dissolved AI council advising the government, believes the UK can lead in AI safety technology, provided there’s adequate investment. 

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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