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US and UK agree AI safety collaboration

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The UK and US governments have signed an agreement to forge close ties between their respective AI Safety Institutes

Cliff Saran

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Published: 02 Apr 2024 10: 48

The UK and US governments have agreed to collaborate on artificial intelligence (AI) safety. A memorandum of understanding, signed on 1 April, will see the UK and US work together to align their scientific approaches and work closely to accelerate and rapidly iterate robust suites of evaluations for AI models, systems, and agents.

The agreement builds on the UK’s AI Safety Summit, which took place in November 2023 at Bletchley Park. Following the summit, the UK government announced it had commissioned an independent “state of the science” report on the capabilities and risks of frontier AI, which would be advised by an “expert advisory panel”. Prior to the summit, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the UK AI Safety Institute, tasked with examining, evaluating and testing new types of AI.

The UK and US AI Safety Institutes aim to build a common approach to AI safety testing and share their capabilities to ensure these risks can be tackled effectively. The two institutes have committed to perform at least one joint testing exercise on a publicly accessible model. They also intend to tap into a collective pool of expertise by exploring personnel exchanges between the institutes.

The collaboration between the US and UK aims to offer a shared approach to AI safety which can keep pace with the emerging risks posed by advances in AI. As the countries strengthen their partnership on AI safety, the US and UK said they want to develop similar partnerships with other countries to promote AI safety across the globe. 

UK secretary of state for science, innovation, and technology, Michelle Donelan said: “This agreement represents a landmark moment, as the UK and the United States deepen our enduring special relationship to address the defining technology challenge of our generation. We have always been clear that ensuring the safe development of AI is a shared global issue. Only by working together can we address the technology’s risks head on and harness its enormous potential to help us all live easier and healthier lives.”

US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo added: “This partnership is going to accelerate both of our institutes’ work across the full spectrum of risks, whether to our national security or to our broader society. Our partnership makes clear that we aren’t running away from these concerns – we’re running at them. Because of our collaboration, our institutes will gain a better understanding of AI systems, conduct more robust evaluations, and issue more rigorous guidance.

”By working together, we are furthering the long-lasting special relationship between the US and UK and laying the groundwork to ensure that we’re keeping AI safe both now and in the future.”

Through the collaboration, both countries plan to share vital information about the capabilities and risks associated with AI models and systems, as well as fundamental technical research on AI safety and security. This will work to underpin a common approach to AI safety testing, allowing researchers on both sides of the Atlantic – and around the world – to coalesce around a common scientific foundation.

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