Rishi Sunak has warned that Artificial Intelligence could soon become “superintelligent” and shrug off humanity’s yoke. 

In a speech on the emerging technology ahead of next week’s global summit at Bletchley Park, the Prime Minister shared assessments by the UK's intelligence services which said AI could “make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons” and become a devastating tool for terrorist groups. 

The Tory leader said he did not want to be “alarmist” and that it was “not a risk that people need to be losing sleep over right now” but that he needed to be “honest” with the public. 

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The paper from the spooks said that within two years, the technology could “increase sharply the speed and scale of some threats.”

“The rapid proliferation and increasing accessibility of these technologies will almost certainly enable less-sophisticated threat actors to conduct previously unattainable attacks.

“Risks in the digital sphere (e.g. cyber-attacks, fraud, scams, impersonation, child sexual abuse images) are most likely to manifest and to have the highest impact to 2025.

“Risks to political systems and societies will increase in likelihood as the technology develops and adoption widens. Proliferation of synthetic media risks eroding democratic engagement and public trust in the institutions of government.”

The spies admitted that the “difficulty of predicting technological advances” meant there was “significant potential for technological surprise.”

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In his speech, Mr Sunak said: “Get this wrong and it could make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons.

“Terrorist groups could use AI to spread fear and disruption on an even greater scale,” he said.

“Criminals could exploit AI for cyber attacks, disinformation, fraud or even child sexual abuse.

“And in the most unlikely but extreme cases, there is even the risk that humanity could lose control of AI completely through the kind of AI sometimes referred to as ‘super intelligence’.

“Indeed, to quote the statement made earlier this year by hundreds of the world’s leading AI experts, mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority, alongside other societal scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

Ahead of next week’s summit, Mr Sunak announced the Government would establish the “world’s first” AI safety institute, which the Prime Minister said would “carefully examine, evaluate and test new types of AI so that understand what each new model is capable of” and “exploring all the risks”.

He said tech firms had already trusted the UK with privileged access to their models, making Britain “so well placed” to create the world’s first AI safety institute.

The Prime Minister said the Government would use next week’s summit to push for a first international statement about the nature of AI risks, and said leaders should follow the example of global collaboration around climate change and establish a global expert panel on the issue.

But Mr Sunak said the Government would not “rush to regulate” AI, although he added that countries should not rely on private firms “marking their own homework”.

“Only governments can properly assess the risks of national security,” he said.

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He also defended the decision to invite China to the AI summit. 

Responding to questions from journalists, the Prime Minister said: “I can’t say with 100% certainty that China will be there.

“But I do believe that it is absolutely the right thing to have invited them.

“China is unquestionably the world’s second AI power behind the US. That is just a fact when you look at the amount of research investment and activity that is happening there.”

He added: “That doesn’t mean that it is going to be successful, it doesn’t mean you’re going to agree on everything.

“But you should certainly try and engage with them because for a proper solution to AI over time, it is going to require an international solution. Whether China attends is obviously up to them.”