Leading names from national security and computer science will advise the UK government on the risks and opportunities from AI as part of its Frontier AI Taskforce.

Formerly the Foundation Model Taskforce, the group’s focus will be on ‘Frontier AI’, and in particular, systems which could pose significant risks to public safety and global security. 

Frontier AI models hold enormous potential to power economic growth, drive scientific progress and wider public benefits, while also posing potential safety risks if not developed responsibly. This includes large language models such as ChatGPT, which are trained on vast amounts of data.

Since it launched 11 weeks ago, the Taskforce has made rapid progress in recruiting a team of seven heavy-hitting experts to guide and shape its work. 

Turing Prize Laureate Yoshua Bengio and GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler (pictured, main image) will join its newly-created external advisory board, bringing unparalleled expertise from their roles in national security and deep computer learning. 

Helping to develop new approaches in addressing the risks of AI and harnessing its benefits, all board members will share evidence-based advice in their respective areas of expertise.

Oxford academic Yarin Gal is today announced as the first Taskforce research director. Cambridge academic David Kreuger will also be working with the Taskforce in a consultative role as it scopes its research programme. Together, they will build a team to investigate frontier AI risks such as cyber-attacks.

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To kickstart efforts they will be joined by technical recruits from the AI sector, after hundreds stepped forward to apply, with the research team set to begin evaluating the risks posed by the rapidly advancing frontier of AI. Leading AI companies Anthropic, DeepMind and OpenAI have committed to provide deep access to their AI models for researchers. 

In the coming months, as its work on safety research gets underway, the Taskforce will build out its capability for delivering the other two parts of its mission: identifying new uses for AI in the public sector and strengthening the UK’s capabilities.

“I am pleased to confirm the first members of the Taskforce’s external advisory board, bringing together experts from academia, industry, and government with diverse expertise in AI research and national security,” said Taskforce chair Ian Hogarth. 

“I’m also happy to announce that in just 11 weeks we’ve rapidly hired an incredible team of AI researchers who will help make sure the UK government is at the cutting edge of AI safety.

“We’re working to ensure the safe and reliable development of foundation models but our efforts will also strengthen our leading AI sector, and demonstrate the huge benefits AI can bring to the whole country to deliver better outcomes for everyone across society.”

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The Taskforce is backed with £100 million in funding to lead the safe and reliable development of frontier AI models.

On 1st and 2nd November the UK will host the first major global AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, building consensus on rapid, international action to advance safety at the cutting edge of AI technology. The Taskforce is now positioned to play an important role ahead of those discussions. 

Turing Prize Laureate Bengio said: “The safe and responsible development of AI is an issue which concerns all of us. We have seen massive investment into improving AI capabilities, but not nearly enough investment into protecting the public, whether in terms of AI safety research or in terms of governance to make sure that AI is developed for the benefit of all.

“With the upcoming global AI Safety Summit and the Frontier AI Taskforce, the UK government has taken greatly needed leadership in advancing international coordination on AI, especially on the question of risks and safety.”

Others joining the external advisory panel include the Prime Minister’s Representative for the AI Safety Summit Matt Clifford, who will join as vice-chair; deputy national security adviser Matt Collins; chief scientific adviser for national security Alex Van Someren; Academy of Medical Royal Colleges chair Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard; and Alignment Research Centre chief Paul Christiano.