British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced that Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic — three tech outfits widely considered the global industry leaders in generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies — have agreed to provide the United Kingdom with early access to their AI models.
Sunak made the announcement during a speech opening London Tech Week, an event described by organizers as “a global celebration of tech, uniting the most innovative thinkers and talent of tomorrow in a week-long festival.”
He made the comment while explaining a three-part plan to ensure AI systems in the U.K. are deployed in a safe and secure manner. The first step, per a transcript of the speech, is to perform cutting-edge safety research:
“We’re working with the frontier labs — Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic. And I’m pleased to announce they’ve committed to give early or priority access to models for research and safety purposes to help build better evaluations and help us better understand the opportunities and risks of these systems.”
The prime minister went on to explain that the second step of the U.K.’s plan is the recognition that AI as a technology doesn’t “respect traditional national borders,” thus necessitating the formation of a global task force.
Finally, the third step, per Sunak, is to invest in both AI and quantum to “seize the extraordinary potential of AI to improve people’s lives.” He cited recent investments in the amounts of $1.125 billion and $2.75 billion for compute and quantum technologies, respectively, as steps the U.K. had already taken toward accomplishing this goal.
It remains unclear at this time exactly what form of “early or priority” access the U.K. government will obtain or when such access will be afforded.
Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic have historically offered betas and limited preview versions of their large language models (such as Google’s Bard, OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Anthropic’s Claude). All three companies have also invested in both internal testing with company scientists and external testing with contracted experts.
The prime minister didn’t make it clear whether the U.K. would obtain earlier access to production models than the general public or contractors or if the commitment was simply to offer access to the government as well as other priority researchers.
These comments come at an active time for the U.K.’s regulatory efforts. Not only is parliament racing to come up with comprehensive protections for citizens relative to the recent generative AI boom, but it’s also facing increasing pressure to regulate cryptocurrency, blockchain and Web3 technologies.