A UK summit on artificial intelligence will look at protecting the “future of humanity” by tackling the risk of “machines losing control”, the deputy prime minister told world leaders.
In a speech outlining the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence, Oliver Dowden told the United Nations General Assembly that the daily rate of progress the technology is making would require countries to meet regularly to discuss the “necessary guardrails” .
Mr Dowden, who outlined a dystopian future of what could happen if the development of artificial intelligence goes unchecked, warned that “global regulation is lagging behind current developments” and called for international cooperation to ensure that it will be used for good.
The UK will host an AI security summit in November, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak keen to play a key role for Britain in harnessing and regulating the technology.
Mr Dowden, a close ally of the Prime Minister, led the UK delegation to the gathering of world leaders and top diplomats in the US, as Mr Sunak stayed away.
The Prime Minister, who blamed calendar pressures for his absence, was accused of snubbing the event.
Dowden told the New York gathering on Friday that the AI summit, to be held at Bletchley Park, where codebreakers worked to decipher enemy communications during World War II, would “examine the most serious potential risks' associated with emerging technology.
He told the UN's 193 member states that experts gathering in Buckinghamshire would discuss “the potential for artificial intelligence to undermine our biosecurity or increase the ability of humans to carry out cyber attacks, as well as the risk of them losing control of themselves of machines”.
The senior Tory politician, in a message to those who “would say these warnings are sensational or belong in the realm of science fiction”, singled out AI developers themselves who have warned that its potential should be treated with the same priority with a pandemic or nuclear war.
Even those behind its creation admitted they can't explain some of the ways AI learns, he said, adding that the scale and speed of its advances were “unlike anything we or our predecessors we knew each other before.”
“I'm not standing here claiming to be an expert on artificial intelligence, but I believe that policy makers and governments are ignoring this expert consensus at the risk of all our citizens,” he said.
“The AI revolution will be a test for the multilateral system, to show that it can work together on an issue that will help determine the fate of humanity.
“Our future, the future of humanity, the future of our entire planet, depends on our ability to do that.”
Mr Sunak has openly called for the UK to be the geographic home of an AI security centre.
Mr Dowden said the UK was “uniquely placed” to meet AI threats, home to “world-leading” universities and “cutting-edge” technology companies, while also playing a role in the “computing revolution”.
The UK has opted to invite China to its flagship AI security summit in a move that has been criticized by some Tory skeptics of Beijing.
The decision came despite strained relations with China over a series of security controversies, including the arrest of a parliamentary investigator under the Official Secrets Act.