Technologies Like AI Can Change The World: UK PM Rishi Sunak At London Tech Week

Speaking at the London Tech Week 2023, UK PM Rishi Sunak said that despite concerns over the AI, this technology will help change the world, esp. in health and food sectors.

Technologies Like AI Can Change The World: UK PM Rishi Sunak At London Tech Week Image: Arjit Garg

"AI has great power to make any country a global leader,” said UK PM Rishi Sunak at the inauguration of the London Tech Week 2023. The LTW is scheduled to take place from 12-June 14 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre. Speaking on the first day of the event, the UK Prime Minister spoke on the growing innovation in the technology sector and how it is surpassing any other industry in the world. United Kingdom is ranked 4th in the Global Innovation Index and the UK tech and digital ecosystem value has reached over $1 trillion in 2022, more than 17x the value ten years ago.

The UK is the third country in the world to pass this milestone behind US and China. Rishi Sunak said that with technology at the helm of affairs, any country can become a global leader. He further said that Artificial Intelligence, even though facing scepticism from its founders, had helped the world to defeat Covid-19 and on the top of that, paralyse the war. While people fear the loss of jobs as AI takes the centre stage, he said that the Artificial Intelligence can help in the health and food industries.

“It’s great to be back at London Tech Week at what I think is a moment of huge opportunity. We are an island of innovation. But at a moment like this, when the tectonic plates of technology are shifting - not just in AI, but in quantum, synthetic biology, semiconductors, and much more - we cannot rest, satisfied with where we stand” said Rishi Sunak.

UK’s Tech Industry

UK is one of the leading countries in the world as far as technology companies are concerned. The UK has produced more unicorns than Germany, France and Spain combined. “We’ve created 134 unicorns in the last decade – third in the world, behind only the US and China,” said Rishi Sunak.

“We’re one of the most digitally literate societies in the world, with a higher percentage of STEM graduates than the US and 4 of world’s top 10 universities. We’ve got extraordinary strengths in Fintech, cyber and creative industries and engineering biology – where from the Crick and the Biobank to DeepMind’s Alphafold we’re pushing at the boundaries of what is possible in health,” he added.

UK was the 5th largest digital tech services exporter in the world at £23.3bn in 2019 (after India, USA, China and Germany). The UK recorded a trade surplus of £125.5bn in digitally delivered services in 2020.

Technology Related Jobs

UK, which is a big hub for students and professionals from across the world, and more particularly from India, is working to make the visa system easier for talents from the technology industry, said Rishi Sunak. UK-India investment relationship supports over half a million jobs across both economies. He also stated that his government formed a brand new department for science and technology. Further, with companies like Google and HSBC opening their AI and innovations divisions in the UK, a focus approach towards jobs in these fields will be enabled. 

“We must act – and act quickly – if we want not only to retain our position as one of the world’s tech capitals but to go even further and make this the best country in the world to start, grow, and invest in tech businesses. That is my goal,” said Sunak. "We will make the UK best country in the world for technology,” he added.

Safety Concerns Over AI

Rishi Sunak also addressed the concerns over the safety risk and job risk involved with the growing popularity of the Artificial Intelligence. He said, “I know people are concerned. 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. And that’s why leading on AI also means leading on AI safety.”

Sunak gave a three point formula deal with the safety aspect of the Artificial Intelligence. “So, we’re building a new partnership between our vibrant academia, brilliant AI companies, and a government that gets it. And we’ll do that in three ways,” said Sunak.

“First – we’re going to do cutting edge safety research here in the UK.  With £100 million for our expert taskforce, we’re dedicating more funding to AI safety than any other government. We’re working with the frontier labs - Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic.

Second – AI doesn’t respect traditional national borders. So we need global cooperation between nations and labs. Just as we unite through COP to tackle climate change so the UK will host the first ever Summit on global AI Safety later this year. I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home but the geographical home, of global AI safety regulation. 

And third, we’re going to seize the extraordinary potential of AI to improve people’s lives. That’s why we’re already investing record sums in our capability including £900 million in compute technology and £2.5 billion in quantum.”