Rishi Sunak sets out pros and cons of AI ahead of next week’s summit

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence could help make it easier to build chemical and biological weapons, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned.

What’s more, in the worst-case scenario, society could lose all control over AI, preventing it from being switched off. And while the potential for harm is disputed, we must not “put our heads in the sand” over AI risks, he argued.

But in a speech aiming to present the UK as a world leader on AI, the PM said that on the plus side the technology was already creating jobs. He added that development of the technology would catalyse economic growth and productivity, though admitted it would also have an impact on the current labour market.

Mr Sunak said he believed education was the solution to preparing people for the changing market, adding that technology had always brought changes to the way people make money. For example, automation  has already changed the nature of factory and warehouse work, but this has not entirely removed human input.

However, expert opinion is divided on the approach the UK government should take towards AI. According to Natalie Cramp, CEO of data company Profusion, the Prime Minister needs to focus on the more mundane problems of AI rather than its existential threats.
“The Prime Minister has rightly highlighted that AI opens the door to unprecedented benefits but also carries with it the risk of serious harm to society. Identifying these risks is important work. However, we cannot get fixated on what might happen in the future while ignoring what AI is capable of now.
“The Government needs to move faster on developing legislation that will clarify the status of generative AI outputs and protect content creators, safeguard against the misuse of facial or emotional recognition technology, and ensure that new data privacy legislation takes into account the worst potential excesses of AI.” 
Adds Phil Mason, CEO, CyberCX UK: 
“AI has huge potential. In terms of cyber security, there are ways in which it can support and enhance defences. But, there are major risks in AI as an enabler of cyber-attacks, with the technology being increasingly used to enable more advanced and sophisticated cyber-attacks of late. The most important thing is to know these risks, as this allows us to defend against them. 
“One benefit of AI for cybercriminals is the ability to train machine learning algorithms to detect vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, exploit them, and launch attacks with minimal human intervention. Furthermore, threat actors are employing AI-powered automation to launch cyber-attacks, such as automated malware, targeted phishing campaigns, and ransomware distributions. “
Chris Price
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