Britain mulling setting up global AI watchdog

UK PM Rishi Sunak planning a London-based agency to monitor any threats posed by AI

Rishi Sunak British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak | Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering a London-based global artificial intelligence (AI) watchdog to oversee any threats posed by the fast-growing technology, according to a UK media report on Saturday.

Sunak will discuss ways to cooperate on monitoring AI when he meets US President Joe Biden at the White House next week, according to 'The Times'.

Among the ideas under consideration in Downing Street is setting up a global AI authority in London, modelled on the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA, founded in 1957 with 176 countries including India as members, monitors the use of nuclear energy, promotes safe standards, and checks that it is not used for military purposes.

A British minister told the newspaper that the UK would be the best place in the world for any new body because many leading companies already have a strong presence here.

Though plans are at an early stage, if Sunak pushes ahead, the UK government could seek to recruit rapidly to get the authority up and running.

“The Prime Minister is very alive to the need for international alignment on the approach to AI as the technology evolves to ensure we can benefit from the opportunities but manage the risks,” a government source was quoted as saying by the publication.

The possibility of Sunak creating a regulator comes as the European Union (EU) is refining its Artificial Intelligence Act, which is expected to take a hard line on oversight of the sector. The US is also considering how to regulate but is expected to be less severe, as the world grapples with concerns about the safety of AI technology.

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