AI advances outstripping global regulation, Oliver Dowden to warn at UN

The Deputy Prime Minister will warn that “global regulation is falling behind current advances” in artificial intelligence in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

Oliver Dowden will call for a “new form of multilateralism” to manage the fast-developing technology or risk it destabilising the world order.

He is heading the UK delegation at the gathering of world leaders and top diplomats in New York as Rishi Sunak stayed away.

The Prime Minister, who has blamed diary pressures for his absence, has been accused of snubbing the event.

His deputy will take to the podium in his place on Friday to tell the 193 UN member states that they must take action to make AI safe.

It comes as the UK prepares to host an AI summit in November, with Mr Sunak keen to establish a key role for Britain in harnessing and regulating the technology.

Mr Dowden – a close ally of the Prime Minister – will say: “The starting gun has been fired on a globally competitive race in which individual companies as well as countries will strive to push the boundaries as far and fast as possible.

“In the past, leaders have responded to scientific and technological developments with retrospective regulation.

“But in this instance the necessary guardrails, regulation and governance must be developed in a parallel process with the technological progress. Yet, at the moment, global regulation is falling behind current advances.”

Mr Dowden will suggest that the international community must wrest some control over AI from tech firms.

“Because tech companies and non-state actors often have country-sized influence and prominence in AI, this challenge requires a new form of multilateralism.

“Tech companies must not mark their own homework, just as governments and citizens must have confidence that risks are properly mitigated.

“Indeed, a large part of this work should be about ensuring faith in the system and only nation states can provide reassurance that the most significant national security concerns have been allayed.”

He will stress that AI will be “a tool for both” good and ill and highlight its potential in areas such as tackling diseases and fighting climate change.

It comes after a series of meetings with tech giants during the American visit.

Mr Dowden also attended the UN Security Council, joining Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in criticising Russia at the Wednesday meeting.