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US-UK AI Safety Partnership Announced. What About Canada?

AI | April 3, 2024

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US and UK Announce Global AI Safety and Innovation Partnership

The United States and the United Kingdom have announced a strategic partnership to advance the science of artificial intelligence (AI) safety. Amid escalating concerns over the capabilities of next-generation AI technologies, the collaboration aims to develop robust testing frameworks for AI models, ensuring they serve societal needs while mitigating potential security and ethical risks. By focusing on the responsible development and deployment of AI, this partnership sets a precedent for global cooperation in technology governance.

  • The formal agreement was solidified by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and British Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan in Washington, DC. This partnership, emerging from commitments at the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park where 28 nations including Canada agreed to The Bletchley Declaration on Frontier AI.
  • The UK has pledged more than 100 million pounds ($125.5 million) to initiate nine new research hubs, emphasizing AI's governance and safety. The US has also been proactive, with plans to enhance its AI safety team and proposals requiring US cloud companies to monitor foreign AI model training within their data centers. These measures reflect both nations' dedication to a secure AI-powered future.

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  • The partnership includes the establishment of national AI safety institutes in both countries. These institutes will conduct joint testing exercises and consider personnel exchanges to bolster AI safety standards. Their work signifies the first agreement of its kind globally, aiming to balance AI's benefits against its potential risks.

Gina Raimondo, US commerce secretary:

“We all know AI is the defining technology of our generation. This partnership will accelerate both of our institutes’ work across the full spectrum to address the risks of our national security concerns and the concerns of our broader society.”

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Nathan Benaich, Founder of Air Street Capital (tells Sifted)

“narrow focus on extreme risk” does not “reflect the balance of opinion in the AI community” and could concentrate power in the hands of a small number of big companies.

Recognized as a Top 5 AI Hub Globally, What About Canada?

The recent US-UK partnership on AI safety, while a significant step toward addressing the global challenges of artificial intelligence, has sparked a note of disappointment in Canada, notably due to Canada's absence from the agreement. Canada's prominent role in the AI landscape underscores this sentiment, given its substantial contributions to the field.

Canada is home to two of the three recognized "godfathers of AI," Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio, who have been key in advancing AI research and development. Their work has laid foundational stones in the field, shaping the current and future directions of AI technology.

The country boasts several leading AI research institutes, such as MILA, which are at the forefront of AI innovation and have cultivated a rich ecosystem for AI research and development.

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Recognized as one of the top 5 AI hubs globally, Canada's stature in AI research and technology development is well-established, backed by substantial academic, private, and public funding and a robust infrastructure for AI innovation.

The absence of Canada from the US-UK AI safety partnership thus raises questions and concerns within the Canadian AI community, reflecting a desire for greater inclusion in global efforts to navigate the complexities and opportunities of AI technology responsibly.

Why This Matters

The US-UK partnership on AI safety and innovation aims to create secure and ethical AI frameworks for responsible technological advancement but also set benchmarks for global cooperation. Canada's significant contributions to AI, through its pioneering researchers and institutes, accentuate the need for an inclusive approach that leverages global expertise to tackle AI's multifaceted challenges.

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