In a stark address to the UN, UK Deputy PM Oliver Dowden has sounded the alarm on the potentially destabilising impact of AI on the world order.
Dowden has urged governments to take immediate action to regulate AI development, warning that the rapid pace of advancement in AI technology could outstrip their ability to ensure its safe and responsible use.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York, Dowden highlighted that the UK will host a global summit in November to discuss the regulation of AI. The summit aims to bring together international leaders, experts, and industry representatives to address the pressing concerns surrounding AI.
One of the primary fears surrounding unchecked AI development is the potential for widespread job displacement, the proliferation of misinformation, and the deepening of societal discrimination. Without adequate regulations in place, AI technologies could be harnessed to magnify these negative effects.
“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,” Dowden cautioned during his address.
Dowden went on to note that the current state of global regulation lags behind the rapid advances in AI technology. Unlike the past, where regulations followed technological developments, Dowden stressed that rules must now be established in tandem with AI’s evolution.
Oseloka Obiora, CTO at RiverSafe, said: “Business leaders are jumping into bed with the latest AI trends at an alarming rate, with little or no concern for the consequences.
“With global regulatory standards falling way behind and the most basic cyber security checks being neglected, it is right for the government to call for new global standards to prevent the AI ticking timebomb from exploding.”
Dowden underscored the importance of ensuring that AI companies do not have undue influence over the regulatory process. He emphasised the need for transparency and oversight, stating that AI companies should not “mark their own homework.” Instead, governments and citizens should have confidence that risks associated with AI are being properly mitigated.
Moreover, Dowden highlighted that only coordinated action by nation-states could provide the necessary assurance to the public that significant national security concerns stemming from AI have been adequately addressed.
He also cautioned against oversimplifying the role of AI—noting that it can be both a tool for good and a tool for ill, depending on its application. During the UN General Assembly, the UK also pitched AI’s potential to accelerate development in the world’s most impoverished nations.
The UK’s initiative to host a global AI regulation summit signals a growing recognition among world leaders of the urgent need to establish a robust framework for AI governance. As AI technology continues to advance, governments are under increasing pressure to strike the right balance between innovation and safeguarding against potential risks.
Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Expert at ESET, comments: “The fear that AI could shape our lives in a completely new direction is not without substance, as the power behind the technology churning this wheel is potentially destructive. Not only could AI change jobs, it also has the ability to change what we know to be true and impact what we believe.
“Regulating it would mean potentially stifling innovation. But even attempting to regulate such a powerful beast would be like trying to regulate the dark web, something that is virtually impossible. Large datasets and algorithms can be designed to do almost anything, so we need to start looking at how we can improve educating people, especially young people in schools, into understanding this new wave of risk.”
Dowden’s warning to the United Nations serves as a clarion call for nations to come together and address the challenges posed by AI head-on. The global summit in November will be a critical step in shaping the future of AI governance and ensuring that the world order remains stable in the face of unprecedented technological change.
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