AI should be regulated like medicine and nuclear power: UK minister

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Developers working on artificial intelligence should be licensed and regulated similarly to the pharmaceutical, medical, or nuclear industries, according to a representative for Britain’s opposing political party.

Lucy Powell, a politician and digital spokesperson for the United Kingdom’s Labour Party, told The Guardian on June 5 that firms like OpenAI or Google which have created AI models should “have to have a license in order to build these models,” adding:

“My real point of concern is the lack of any regulation of the large language models that can then be applied across a range of AI tools, whether that’s governing how they are built, how they are managed or how they are controlled.”

Powell argued regulating the development of certain technologies is a better option than banning them similar to how the European Union banned facial recognition tools.

She added AI “can have a lot of unintended consequences” but if developers were forced to be open about their AI training models and datasets then some risks could be mitigated by the government

“This technology is moving so fast that it needs an active, interventionist government approach, rather than a laissez-faire one,” she said.

Powell also believes such advanced technology could greatly impact the U.K. economy and the Labour Party is purportedly finishing up its own policies on AI and related technologies.

Next week, Labour leader Keir Starmer is planning to hold a meeting with the party’s shadow cabinet at Google’s U.K. offices so it can speak with its AI-focused executives.

Related: EU officials want all AI-generated content to be labeled

Meanwhile, Matt Clifford, the chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency — the government’s research agency set up last February — appeared on TalkTV on June 5 to warn thaAI could threaten humans in as little as two years.

“If we don’t start to think about now how to regulate and think about safety, then in two years’ time we’ll be finding that we have systems that are very powerful indeed,” he said. Clifford clarified, however, that a two-year timeline is the “bullish end of the spectrum.”

Clifford highlighted that AI tools today could be used to help “launch large-scale cyber attacks.” OpenAI has put forward $1 million to support AI-aided cybersecurity tech to thwart such uses.

“I think there’s lots of different scenarios to worry about,” he said. “I certainly think it’s right that it should be very high on the policymakers’ agendas.”

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