Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warns Britain can't 'opt out' of AI race
Jeremy Hunt warns Britain can’t ‘opt out’ of AI race and needs to ‘win’ the battle over new tech against hostile countries as Chancellor dismisses Elon Musk’s call for pause on research
- Jeremy Hunt says other nations are ‘investing massively’ in AI research
Jeremy Hunt tonight warned Britain can’t ‘opt out’ of the race on artificial intelligence (AI) and said the country needed to ‘win’ the battle over new technology.
The Chancellor admitted there was scope for AI to be ‘used in a bad way’ but he rejected recent calls – including from billionaire Elon Musk – for a pause on research.
Speaking at a Politico event, Mr Hunt suggested the UK could not afford to be left behind while hostile countries are ‘investing massively’ in AI.
But he was also enthusiastic about the potential for AI to answer the ‘productivity and growth challenge’ among Western economies.
The Chancellor dismissed concerns that AI could put jobs at risk as he hailed the UK’s history of adapting to new technology.
Speaking at a Politico event, Jeremy Hunt suggested the UK could not afford to be left behind while hostile countries are ‘investing massively’ in AI
The Chancellor admitted there was scope for AI to be ‘used in a bad way’ but he rejected recent calls – including from billionaire Elon Musk – for a pause on research
‘I still don’t think we’ve got our head around how transformative it’s actually going to be, but it’s still got a long way to go,’ Mr Hunt said.
He recounted how he recently tried out ChatGPT – an online AI chatbot – to ask ‘is Jeremy Hunt a good Chancellor’.
Mr Hunt revealed how ChatGPT then told him twice that Rishi Sunak was still Chancellor of the Exchequer.
More than 1,000 AI experts recently joined a call for an immediate pause on the creation of ‘giant’ AIs for at least six months while the capabilities and dangers of the technology can be studied.
They included Musk – the Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX owner – who is also co-founder of the OpenAI research lab responsible for ChatGPT.
But Mr Hunt dismissed the demand for a pause on the development of AI.
‘Of course there’s a potential for this technology to be used in a bad way and we need to be very mindful of that,’ the Chancellor said.
‘But I don’t believe it’s possible in the world we’re in – where there are countries that don’t share our values, that are investing massively in AI – to opt out of this race.
‘I think we have to win the race and then be super smart in the way we regulate it so it is a force for good and enhances the values we all believe in.
‘I truly believe that AI can be the answer to the productivity and growth challenge that all advanced economies are facing.
‘We have got to find a different way to grow productively and AI has a major contribution to make in delivering that possibility.’
Asked whether AI represented a threat to jobs, with employees being replaced by tech, Mr Hunt replied: ‘I just don’t buy that – look what’s happened to unemployment since we’ve been in office since 2010.
‘It’s halved and it’s halved in a period where every time there has been a new technology, we have leaned right into it.
‘We haven’t tried to protect legacy models.’
Mr Hunt also revealed he deleted his TikTok account when he became Chancellor last October due to ‘security reasons’.
Asked if he was worried about the video-sharing app or whether he let his children use it, Mr Hunt replied: ‘My kids do use TikTok.
‘But I’m in a job where I think it’s important people can’t automatically know where I am at any one time.
‘That was my concern about the way TikTok worked, I wasn’t quite sure the way the location functions worked.’
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