Rishi Sunak held a private meeting with Google’s CEO on Friday as part of his ongoing discussions with tech leaders about the challenges posed by artificial intelligence.
The Prime Minister met with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, at the Darlington Economic Campus.
They discussed the challenges posed by AI, the growth of the UK tech industry and the government’s ambitions to make Britain a superpower in science and technology.
On the subject of artificial intelligence, a Downing Street spokesman said: “They talked about finding the right balance of making sure the right regulatory guard rails are in place, while also driving innovation.”
“They discussed possible opportunities for industrial and international cooperation on safe and responsible AI development and agreed to stay in touch on the topic.”
Earlier this week, Mr. Sunak has held talks with tech chiefs, including the CEOs of OpenAI, Google DeepMind, and Anthropic.
The Prime Minister hailed AI as “the defining technology of our time with the potential to positively transform humanity”.
But he also discussed the need to regulate artificial intelligence to mitigate risks ranging from disinformation and national security to “existential threats.”
The explosive growth of AI and its diverse applications has led to an increase in fake AI-generated images, AI photo imitations, and cloned music tracks.
Last week BT Group said it would shed up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade as it looks to move to AI and automated services.
There are growing concerns that the technology could impact jobs and education, while some experts have even warned that powerful AI systems “cannot be controlled”.
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Writing in the Financial Times this week, Mr Pichai said AI is “the most profound technology humanity is working on today,” citing medical advances and “its ability to help thousands of Ukrainian refugees communicate in their new homes.”
He said AI is “too important not to regulate and too important not to regulate well”.
This comes amid mounting warnings from experts in the field.
The government’s former chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, warned that AI could have an impact on jobs comparable to that of the industrial revolution.
And earlier this month Geoffrey Hinton, the man widely credited as the godfather of AI, warned that some of the dangers of AI chatbots are “pretty scary” as he quit his job at Google.
Despite concerns about AI, technology has made advances in the scientific and medical fields, including a new test that could potentially help doctors diagnose heart attacks more quickly and accurately.
It was revealed this week that a man who was paralyzed in a bicycle accident ten years ago is walking again thanks to a wireless digital connection between his brain and spinal cord.
Scientists have also used AI to develop a system to detect tsunamis and earthquakes.