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UK Government announces funding for AI safety research initiatives

Written by Thu 23 May 2024

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The UK Government has announced the UK will offer grants to researchers to study how to protect society from artificial intelligence (AI) risks like deepfakes.

The funding is also intended to be used to harness the benefits of AI like increased productivity. The most promising proposals will be developed will be developed into longer-term projects and receive further funding. 

“I am acutely aware that we can only achieve this momentous challenge by tapping into a broad and diverse pool of talent and disciplines, and forging ahead with new approaches that push the limit of existing knowledge and methodologies,” said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.

The programme will be led by Shahar Avin, an AI safety researcher on secondment, and Christopher Summerfield, the UK AI Safety Institute’s Research Director. It will be delivered in partnership with UK Research and Innovation and The Alan Turing Institute, with plans to collaborate with international AI safety institutes. 

“Rapidly advancing technology is bringing profound changes to the information environment, shaping our social, economic and democratic interactions,” said Professor Helen Margetts, Director of Public Policy at The Alan Turing Institute.

The new grants programme aims to expand the Institute’s focus to include ‘systemic AI safety,’ which addresses mitigating AI’s societal impacts and studying how institutions, systems, and infrastructure can adapt to technological transformations.

“We need to think carefully about how to adapt our infrastructure and systems for a new world in which AI is embedded in everything we do. This programme is designed to generate a huge body of ideas for how to tackle this problem, and to help make sure great ideas can be put into practice,” said Christopher Summerfield, Research Director at the UK AI Safety Institute.

Proposals could include strategies to curb the spread of fake images and misinformation by targeting the platforms that disseminate them, rather than the AI models that create them.

Applicants must be UK-based but are encouraged to collaborate globally. 

The news arrived the same week Britain and South Korea reached a landmark agreement on the creation of a global network of AI Safety Institutes. At an AI Summit in South Korea, ten countries and the European Union have committed to collaborate on a network to improve the science of artificial intelligence (AI) safety.

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Written by Thu 23 May 2024

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