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UK PM Sunak pitches Britain as future home for AI regulation


LONDON (Reuters) -Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday Britain could be the global home of artificial intelligence regulation as he pitched London as a tech hub to industry leaders and urged them to grasp the opportunities and challenges of AI.

Sunak’s government will host a summit on the risks and regulation of AI later this year, and on Monday he said the “tectonic plates of technology are shifting.”

“The possibilities (of AI) are extraordinary. But we must – and we will – do it safely,” Sunak said in a speech at the London Tech Week conference.

“I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation.”

Governments around the world are now trying to find a balance whereby they can assess and rein in the potential negative consequences of AI without stifling innovation.

Sunak said the tech sector was at the heart of his priority to grow the economy, and while he acknowledged concerns that employees were worried about their jobs, previous technologies had presented similar challenges.

“Obviously people’s concern is for jobs,” he said. “We’ve grappled with these things in the past.”

Britain in March opted to split regulatory responsibility for AI between those bodies that oversee human rights, health and safety, and competition, rather than creating a new body dedicated to the technology.

During a visit to Washington last week, Sunak got U.S. President Joe Biden’s backing for Britain to host the AI summit, which will consider the risks of the technology and discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action.

“This is a moment when the contours of the world for the rest of this century are being set,” finance minister Jeremy Hunt said at the conference.

“I would like this country to be a force for good in making sure these are set in a way that means that technology can really benefit everyone.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Alistair Smout; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Sachin Ravikumar)

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