The UK government has recently announced a new joint initiative with several leading artificial intelligence vendors.
According to the agreement, Google, OpenAI and Anthropic will all provide British agencies with “early or priority access” to their models.
The move comes as part of a wider strategy intended to help grow the post-Brexit economy. By embracing the technology, the plan is to make Britain a leading hub for AI development and investment. The government has already invested £1bn to build a new exascale supercomputer for a dedicated AI Research Resource. This was followed by a further £100m fund for developing a British AI taskforce to build new foundation models.
An important competitive advantage?
Although the British government has not yet released details of the agreement, it is expected that they now have an opportunity to better understand each technology. Ultimately, this should then allow legislators to better evaluate opportunities and risks presented by artificial intelligence systems.
The promise of early/priority access for the UK comes at the same time as the European Union is drawing up new laws to regulate AI use across member states. Some commentators suggest that this pre-emptive move to legislate emerging AI technologies could stifle innovation, limit growth and leave EU member states at a disadvantage to other countries that have adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach (like Great Britain).
Too close for comfort?
Other industry analysts warn that the UK’s plans could backfire. Although they have early access to new AI technologies, there is a fear that vendors like Google and OpenAI may use the relationship to influence consultations to benefit themselves rather than the British public.
These concerns are not without foundation either – it would not be the first time that big tech companies have misused their privileges. Google famously misused data belonging to UK patients as part of a partnership with the National Health Service for instance.
Until the UK government reveals more details of what this agreement entails it is hard to accurately assess what the true benefits will be – or how British business and citizens will benefit. As such, industry experts are waiting to see if the UK’s ‘wait and see’ policy pays off – or whether the EU’s early legislation efforts prevent misuse and abuse of emerging AI technologies.