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Theresa May Wants the UK to Lead the World in AI Ethics

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May outlined her vision for an United Kingdom leading the global conversation on Artificial Intelligence in a tech-focused speech in Davos.

In her address at the World Economic Forum, May almost totally eluded the nagging issue of Brexit, instead deciding to reinvent herself as the standard-bearer of safe, ethical AI.

May said that the UK could be a trailblazer in working out a way to deliver AI’s benefits and weathering its risks. She underlined how Britain’s business environment has been a fertile breeding group for AI startups, saying that a  new AI-focused company has been born in the country every week for three years.

May also extolled the UK’s readiness to “bring artificial intelligence into government”, confirming the creation of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, an advisory organisation whose aim is “to enable and ensure safe, ethical innovation in artificial intelligence and data-driven technologies.”

The creation of the Centre— arguably the first  of its kind in the world— had already been announced in the Autumn budget. May said that the organisation might work with other countries on tackling AI’s challenged and opportunities— which chimes with last week’s announcement of the creation of an Anglo-French AI Alliance.

Prime Minister May also talked about AI’s and automation’s potential threat to jobs.

“It is a test that I am confident we can meet,” she said. “For right across the long sweep of history from the invention of electricity to advent of factory production, time and again initially disquieting innovations have delivered previously unthinkable advances and we have found the way to make those changes work for all our people.”

In her speech, PM May also singled out private messaging app Telegram for encrypting its messages, which she claims could have helped criminals and terrorists evade law enforcement’s scrutiny.

“We need to see more co-operation from smaller platforms like this,” May said.

Image via bit.ly/2neWEuN

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