UK paper highlights AI risks ahead of global Safety Summit

UK paper highlights AI risks ahead of global Safety Summit Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (

The UK Government has unveiled a comprehensive paper addressing the capabilities and risks associated with frontier AI.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has spoken today on the global responsibility to confront the risks highlighted in the report and harness AI’s potential. Sunak emphasised the need for honest dialogue about the dual nature of AI: offering unprecedented opportunities, while also posing significant dangers.

“AI will bring new knowledge, new opportunities for economic growth, new advances in human capability, and the chance to solve problems we once thought beyond us. But it also brings new dangers and new fears,” said Sunak.

“So, the responsible thing for me to do is to address those fears head-on, giving you the peace of mind that we will keep you safe while making sure you and your children have all the opportunities for a better future that AI can bring.

“Doing the right thing, not the easy thing, means being honest with people about the risks from these technologies.”

The report delves into the rapid advancements of frontier AI, drawing on numerous sources. It highlights the diverse perspectives within scientific, expert, and global communities regarding the risks associated with the swift evolution of AI technology. 

The publication comprises three key sections:

  1. Capabilities and risks from frontier AI: This section presents a discussion paper advocating further research into AI risk. It delineates the current state of frontier AI capabilities, potential future improvements, and associated risks, including societal harms, misuse, and loss of control.
  2. Safety and security risks of generative AI to 2025: Drawing on intelligence assessments, this report outlines the potential global benefits of generative AI while highlighting the increased safety and security risks. It underscores the enhancement of threat actor capabilities and the effectiveness of attacks due to generative AI development.
  3. Future risks of frontier AI: Prepared by the Government Office for Science, this report explores uncertainties in frontier AI development, future system risks, and potential scenarios for AI up to 2030.

The report – based on declassified information from intelligence agencies – focuses on generative AI, the technology underpinning popular chatbots and image generation software. It foresees a future where AI might be exploited by terrorists to plan biological or chemical attacks, raising serious concerns about global security.

Sjuul van der Leeuw, CEO of Deployteq, commented: “It is good to see the government take a serious approach, offering a report ahead of the Safety Summit next week however more must be done.

“An ongoing effort to address AI risks is needed and we hope that the summit brings much-needed clarity, allowing businesses and marketers to enjoy the benefits this emerging piece of technology offers, without the worry of backlash.”

The report highlights that generative AI could be utilised to gather knowledge on physical attacks by non-state violent actors, including creating chemical, biological, and radiological weapons.

Although companies are working to implement safeguards, the report emphasises the varying effectiveness of these measures. Obstacles to obtaining the necessary knowledge, raw materials, and equipment for such attacks are decreasing, with AI potentially accelerating this process.

Additionally, the report warns of the likelihood of AI-driven cyber-attacks becoming faster-paced, more effective, and on a larger scale by 2025. AI could aid hackers in mimicking official language, and overcome previous challenges faced in this area.

However, some experts have questioned the UK Government’s approach.

Rashik Parmar MBE, CEO of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said: “Over 1,300 technologists and leaders signed our open letter calling AI a force for good rather than an existential threat to humanity.

“AI won’t grow up like The Terminator. If we take the proper steps, it will be a trusted co-pilot from our earliest school days to our retirement.

The AI Safety Summit will aim to foster healthy discussion around how to address frontier AI risks, encompassing misuse by non-state actors for cyberattacks or bioweapon design and concerns related to AI systems acting autonomously contrary to human intentions. Discussions at the summit will also extend to broader societal impacts, such as election disruption, bias, crime, and online safety.

Claire Trachet, CEO of Trachet, commented: “The fast-growing nature of AI has made it difficult for governments to balance creating effective regulation which safeguards the interest of businesses and consumers without stifling investment opportunities. Even though there are some forms of risk management and different reports coming out now, none of them are true coordinated approaches.

“The UK Government’s commitment to AI safety is commendable, but the criticism surrounding the summit serves as a reminder of the importance of a balanced, constructive, and forward-thinking approach to AI regulation.”

If the UK Government’s report is anything to go by, the need for collaboration around proportionate but rigorous measures to manage the risks posed by AI is more imperative than ever.

The global AI Safety Summit is set to take place at the historic Bletchley Park on 1 – 2 November 2023.

(Image Credit: GOV.UK)

See also: BSI: Closing ‘AI confidence gap’ key to unlocking benefits

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