rishi sunak at london tech week

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivered his keynote address at the London Tech Week. Among others, he pitched the country as a hub for AI and outlined the plans for AI regulations.

Calling the UK an “island of innovation” he highlighted the features that make the country an attractive destination for AI and stressed that more capital is invested in the tech industry in the UK than in France and Germany combined.

Sunak also talked about the country’s startup ecosystem and said that the UK created 134 unicorns over the last decade – which is only behind the US and China.

UK has the maximun unicorns in europe

He also talked up his administration and said, “It’s this government that’s building the most pro-investment tax regime, that’s increasing public R&D investment to record levels and that’s making our visa system for international talent one of the most competitive in the world.”

He added that the country is changing its listing rules to make it easier for companies to raise capital from the public markets.

That said, London’s image as a destination for tech listings received a beating when Arm Holdings ditched London and instead filed to list in the US. Arm, which is owned by Japanese private equity giant SoftBank, is based in London and is among the most widely awaited IPOs.

Notably, Sunak has long been working to promote London as an AI innovation hub. During his visit to the US last week, the two countries signed an agreement to promote joint research in AI.

The UK to Hold a Global Summit on Artificial Intelligence Regulation

Sunak had previously announced that the UK would hold a global summit on AI regulations in the fall of this year.

During his keynote address at the London Tech Week also, he talked about the risks associated with AI and said, “The very pioneers of AI are warning us about the ways these technologies could undermine our values and freedoms through to the most extreme risks of all.”

Notably, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said that he is “scared” of AI and during his Congressional testimony last month he admitted that the technology can “go quite wrong.”

There have been multiple instances of AI platforms being used to disseminate fake news including one case last month where AI-generated fake images of a blast near the Pentagon went viral.

CMA is Investigating AI Models

Incidentally, last month, Competition and Markets Authority CMA said that the UK government has asked it “to think about how the innovative development and deployment of AI can be supported against five overarching principles: safety, security and robustness; appropriate transparency and explainability; fairness; accountability and governance; and contestability and redress.”

CMA said that its initial review would examine three aspects which are

  • Examining how markets and use for foundation models could evolve
  • Exploring the opportunities and risks with respect to competition and consumer protection
  • Coming up with guidelines to protect consumers and competition

Sunak’s Plan on Developing AI Innovation Ecosystem in the UK

Sunak outlined three steps that his administration is taking to build a “new partnership between our vibrant academia, brilliant AI companies, and a government that gets it.”

Firstly, he said that the UK would do “cutting edge safety research” and touted the £100 million that the country has committed to the expert taskforce – an amount which is higher than any other government.

He said the country would work for global cooperation on AI regulations and stressed: “AI doesn’t respect traditional national borders.”

Finally, he said that “we’re going to seize the extraordinary potential of AI to improve people’s lives.” Sunak emphasized that the UK is investing £900 million in compute technology and another £2.5 billion in quantum computing.

AI stocks have outperformed in 2023

To be sure, AI has emerged as an attractive investment and investors have loaded up on AI plays this year.

The massive rally in AI stocks has helped propel the Global X Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF 37% higher this year – which is around thrice what the S&P 500 has delivered over the period.

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