Landmark AI Agreement Signed By UK And US

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues its rapid evolution, almost everyone can probably admit to harbouring AI fears. Whether it’s fears regarding AI taking your job or concerns over its impact on free thought and creativity, it’s natural to feel apprehension towards technology so quickly overtaking our daily lives.

However, peace of mind quells these fears when we hear of collective efforts to ensure responsible AI development. Yesterday saw such an occasion occur. The United Kingdom and the United States made a significant milestone as they came together to forge an agreement on developing robust methods for evaluating the safety of AI tools and the systems that underpin them.

This collaborative endeavour marks a pivotal step towards instilling confidence in the controlled advancement of AI.

The First Deal of Its Kind

This landmark agreement signifies a major milestone as the first bilateral pact of its kind, aimed at managing the rapid evolution of this transformative technology to mitigate its potentially hazardous impacts. Michelle Donelan, the UK tech minister, aptly describes it as “the defining technology challenge of our generation,” acknowledging both its immense potential and the inherent risks it carries, according to a BBC report.

“We have always been clear that ensuring the safe development of AI is a shared global issue,

“Only by working together can we address the technology’s risks head-on and harness its enormous potential to help us all live easier and healthier lives” she continued.

This agreement builds upon the foundation laid by the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in November 2023, with many key figures from the summit reconvening for this latest event. Notable attendees include industry leaders such as Sam Altman from OpenAI, Demis Hassabis from Google DeepMind, and tech magnate Elon Musk.

Currently, AI firms in the US and UK primarily self-regulate, while the EU is progressing towards regulation through initiatives such as the EU’s AI Act, which is poised to become law. Once enacted, this legislation will require developers of certain AI systems to be upfront about their risks and share information about the data used.

This recent agreement is poised to bolster efforts in the US and UK to regulate their AI sectors. While both nations have shown a willingness to cooperate with the idea of regulation thus far, it’s apparent that they anticipate encountering growing challenges in this regard, leading to the formulation of this latest agreement.

Why Is This AI Agreement Necessary?

The necessity of this agreement may seem unsurprising to some. After all, AI is developing at a rate we have rarely seen replicated elsewhere in technological domains.

Presently, the majority of AI systems excel at executing singular, intelligent tasks traditionally within human capabilities, like data analysis or responding to prompts. However, given the rate at which AI is developing, it is foreseeable that this technology will soon be able to surpass such simple tasks and be capable of completing a range of tasks usually performed by humans.

The primary concern here revolves, of course, around the potential danger to society in a world where technology supersedes human proficiency in various tasks.

Nevertheless, scepticism persists regarding the notion that AI really poses existential risks. A professor from the University of Oxford remarked that fears surrounding AI’s existential threat are sometimes exaggerated. He emphasised the importance of supporting efforts to comprehensively understand AI models’ vulnerabilities and capabilities.

Whether or not you buy into the idea that AI really will pose an existential threat to humanity, Gina Raimondo, the US commerce secretary, insists that this agreement will give the governments a better understanding of AI systems, which will subsequently allow them to give better guidance.

“It will accelerate both of our Institutes’ work across the full spectrum of risks, whether to our national security or to our broader society,” she said, as per the BBC report.

“Our partnership makes clear that we aren’t running away from these concerns – we’re running at them.”

Ultimately, any form of AI regulation must be regarded as a positive and necessary endeavour. Given the unpredictable trajectory of this technology and the apprehensions it has already triggered, such as the recent report of its potential to take around 8 million UK jobs, regulating AI has become crucial to safeguarding societal peace of mind and human interest. Hopefully, this agreement signifies a stride in the right direction toward achieving this goal.

Eleanor Watson, IEEE member, AI ethics engineer and AI Faculty at Singularity University 


Eleanor Watson, one of the first signatories for the Future of Life Institute’s Open Letter on AI, comments: “Hopefully, this will provide a chance to build upon the foundations already laid. As ethical considerations surrounding AI become more prominent, it is important to take stock of where the recent developments have taken us, and to meaningfully choose where we want to go from here. The responsible future of AI requires vision, foresight and courageous leadership that upholds ethical integrity in the face of more expedient options.

“Explainable AI, which focuses on making machine learning models interpretable to non-experts, is certain to become increasingly important as these technologies impact more sectors of society. That’s because both regulators and the public will demand the ability to contest algorithmic decision-making. While these subfields offer exciting avenues for technical innovation, they also address growing societal and ethical concerns surrounding machine learning.”


Ayesha Iqbal, IEEE Senior Member and Engineering Trainer at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre

Ayesha Iqbal also states that: “AI has significantly evolved in recent years, with applications in almost every business sector. In fact, it is expected to see a 37.3 per cent annual growth rate from 2023 to 2030. However, there are some barriers preventing organisations and individuals from adopting AI, such as a lack of skilled individuals, complexity of AI systems, lack of governance and fear of job replacement.

“AI is growing faster than ever before – and is already being tested and employed in sectors including education, healthcare, transportation and data security. As such, it’s time that the Government, tech leaders and academia work together to establish standards for the safe, responsible development of AI-based systems. This way, AI can be used to its full potential for the collective benefit of humanity.”