A renowned tech investor, entrepreneur and AI specialist has been named at the chair of the government’s new AI taskforce.

Ian Hogarth will report directly to prime minister Rishi Sunak in his role heading up the government’s Foundation Model Taskforce.

A leading authority on AI, Hogarth has co-authored the annual State of AI report since 2018 on the progress of AI.

He is also a visiting professor at University College London and has a strong background in tech entrepreneurship as the founder of the startup Songkick and the venture capital fund Plural.

Under his leadership, a key focus for the taskforce in the coming months will be taking forward cutting-edge safety research in the run-up to the first global summit on AI safety to be hosted in the UK later this year.

Last week the PM told the London Tech Week that artificial intelligence represented the ‘greatest opportunity’ to make the UK a world leader in technology – if delivered safely.

He urged tech leaders to grasp a generational opportunity as the ‘tectonic plates of technology are shifting’.

Bringing together expertise from government, industry and academia, the taskforce will look at the risks surrounding AI.

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It will carry out research on AI safety and inform broader work on the development of international guardrails, such as shared safety and security standards and infrastructure, that could be put in place to address the risks.

The taskforce will be modelled on the successes of the vaccine taskforce, operating with the same agility and delegated authority so the chair and taskforce are empowered to take forward work and make decisions at pace.

Ian Hogarth, chair of the Foundation Model Taskforce, said: “UK scientists and entrepreneurs have made many important contributions to the field of AI, from Alan Turing through to AlphaFold.

“The prime minister has laid out a bold vision for the UK to supercharge the field of AI safety, one that until now has been under-resourced even as AI capabilities have accelerated.

“I’m honoured to have the chance to chair such an important mission in the lead up to the first global summit on AI Safety in the UK.”

PM Rishi Sunak said: “The more artificial intelligence progresses, the greater the opportunities are to grow our economy and deliver better public services.

“But with such potential to transform our future, we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to ensure AI develops safely and responsibly.

“As one of the leading figures in UK tech, it’s great to have Ian leading our expert taskforce, empowered with authority and agility to build our leadership in AI safety and development.

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“It will ensure we do things differently and move with the same pace and vigour as we rise to meet the task ahead.”

In April, the government committed an initial £100m to set up the Foundation Model Taskforce, seizing the extraordinary opportunities presented by cutting-edge AI systems and advancing their safety and reliability.

Foundation models, including the large language models that power popular new services like ChatGPT, Google Bard and Claude, are general-purpose AI systems trained on massive data sets which can be applied to tasks across the economy.

Technology cecretary Chloe Smith said: “Our Foundation Model Taskforce will steer the responsible and ethical development of cutting-edge AI solutions, and ensure that the UK is right at the forefront when it comes to using this transformative technology to deliver growth and future-proof our economy.

“With Ian on board, the taskforce will be perfectly placed to strengthen the UK’s leadership on AI, and ensure that British people and businesses have access to the trustworthy tools they need to benefit from the many opportunities artificial intelligence has to offer.

“The expert taskforce will help build UK capabilities in foundation models and leverage our existing strengths, including UK leadership in AI safety, research and development, to identify and tackle the unique safety challenges presented by this type of AI.”