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AI Development in the UK – the First Half of 2023

In this special series, we gathered a 6-month report (from January 2023 to early July 2023) detailing the transformative impact that the launch of ChatGPT has had in

While the US media often gets caught up in self-centered narratives, we firmly believe that expanding our horizons to encompass global AI affairs, cultural nuances, and political variations can benefit one a lot.

The UK government is actively positioning itself as a global AI leader by 2030 and is taking steps to welcome AI companies. OpenAI has chosen London as its first foreign office, reflecting the UK's efforts in this area. The government's investment in AI, including funding initiatives and infrastructure development, is aimed at boosting the economy and increasing productivity. As in many battles before that, you can hear Britain saying, “The UK will stand together with our allies to lead the way.”


Since the beginning of the year, ChatGPT has faced bans and investigations from privacy regulators in Europe, prompting the European Parliament to work on the draft legislation of the EU AI Act, which aims to regulate AI technology and define different risk levels. Comparatively, the UK government acted as a welcoming partner, planning to establish a new framework to warmly invite and regulate AI to promote responsible innovation and strengthen the country’s position as an “AI World Superpower by 2030”.

As a result, on June 28, OpenAI announced its first non-US office will open in London, which will rival the UK’s current AI leader, Google DeepMind.

Aiming to play a critical role

“Time and time again throughout history, we have invented paradigm-shifting new technologies, and we have harnessed them for the good of humanity. That is what we must do again,” announced UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during June’s London Tech Week 2023. The UK is currently ranked fourth in the Global AI Index, just after the US, China and Singapore, respectively. It remains ahead of its EU counterparts, with the next highest rating awarded to Germany at number 8.

As such, Sunak also announced the UK will host the world’s first AI Safety Summit in the autumn later this year. “The Global Summit on AI Safety will play a critical role in bringing together government, industry, academia and civil society, and we’re looking forward to working closely with the UK Government to help make these efforts a success,” says Demis Hassabis, CEO & Co-Founder, Google DeepMind, which is developing its own LLM AlphaGo and previously Gopher; as well as Google’s Bard.

Risking to lose

At the same time, UK Broadband provider BT’s Chief Data and AI Officer Adrian Joseph declared that the UK was in an “AI arms race”. He said the country could be left behind without the right investment and government direction, telling MPs that the UK urgently needs to develop its own AI LLM to allow its start-ups, scale-ups, and enterprise companies to compete with rivals in the US and China, with companies such as Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba which have the scale to roll-out their own LLMs quickly.

Joseph warned that the plan would be put at risk without proper investment. Indeed, the UK government’s efforts have been bolstered by recent funding initiatives. These include £110 million (USD$126 million) for the AI Tech Missions Fund, £900 million for establishing an AI Research Resource and the development of an exascale supercomputer capable of running large AI models, £8 million to create an AI Global Talent Network, and provided £117 million in existing funding to support the creation of numerous Ph.D. positions for AI researchers.

“No one country can do this alone. This is going to take a global effort. But with our vast expertise and commitment to an open, democratic international system, the UK will stand together with our allies to lead the way,” says Sunak.

Ethics concerns

On the research side, AI Ethicist Kerry McInerney from Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and the University of Cambridge told the Turing Post: “The release of ChatGPT has brought to the surface long-running concerns among AI ethics researchers and practitioners about the risks generated by large language models. It's turned our concerns about misinformation, discrimination, and harm into a hot-button topic and very abruptly introduced a lot more people to the concept of AI ethics,” she says. “On the one hand, ChatGPT has provided a helpful avenue into talking about issues to do with race, gender, power, and discrimination in AI systems and Big Tech, making it easier to engage researchers, industry figures, and policymakers in critical conversations about AI. On the other hand, I think that the release of ChatGPT and the excitement and hype around its capabilities have set the public discussion around AI back several steps.”

Economical impact

The potential economic impact of AI development in the UK cannot be overlooked. The KPMG report highlights that UK businesses’ widespread adoption of generative AI could contribute £31 billion to the GDP and increase overall productivity by 1.2%. In the international arena, the UN Security Council’s focus on the threats of AI to international security under the UK’s presidency emphasizes the global significance of AI regulation. “These scientists and experts have called on the world to act, declaring AI an existential threat to humanity on a par with the risk of nuclear war,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, prompting the need for a multilateral approach to address the challenges and opportunities presented by AI.

As AI continues to advance at a rapid pace, it will be crucial to strike a balance between reaping its benefits and addressing potential risks. Unresolved issues in AI research and development, such as the need for regulations, skills development, and the responsible use of AI, require ongoing attention from policymakers, regulators, and industry leaders. The current landscape calls for international cooperation, proactive measures, and continuous evaluation of the trends and impacts of AI to navigate the complex and transformative AI-driven future effectively.

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