Turing Winner Bengio Advising UK PM Sunak on Next-gen AI Safety

Rishi Sunak assembles experts in AI, national security and health care to advise his new Frontier AI Taskforce on safely advancing AI

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

September 12, 2023

2 Min Read
Photo of Rishi Sunak, U.K. prime minister
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi SunakGetty Images

At a Glance

  • Turing Award winner Yoshua Bengio is among the AI and security experts Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on next-gen AI models.

Turing Award winner and deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio is among the AI experts advising U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on next-generation AI models.

Bengio, a computer science professor at Université de Montréal in Canada, was among the initial members of the advisory board, which the government has tasked with providing it with insights on AI research and safety.

The group also contains Paul Christiano, who previously ran the language model alignment team at OpenAI. It is also made up of national security experts, such as the deputy national security adviser for Intelligence, Defense and Security, Matt Collins, and Alex van Someren, the U.K.’s chief scientific adviser for national security.

Also part of the advisory group is Helen Stokes-Lampard, a practicing general practitioner and chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. More members are due to join the group.

Sunak’s government has also hired two technical AI experts - Yarin Gal, head of the Oxford University Applied and Theoretical Machine Learning Group, and David Krueger, lead of the University of Cambridge Deep Learning and AI Alignment research group.

The government’s expert group was formed to provide help for the government’s startup inside the government: The Foundation Model Taskforce.

Related:UK Regulators Call for Action on AI Bias, IP Rights

The startup has now been renamed, however - it’s now the Frontier AI Taskforce. 'Frontier models' is a fancy new name for next-gen AI models coined by the likes of OpenAI and Google when they formed an industry body for safe AI development, called Frontier Model Forum.

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The taskforce itself is housed in the U.K.’s Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT). As early as June of this year, DSIT employed just one researcher in ‘frontier AI’ – who had not even finished their PhD.

As part of Sunak’s push to make the U.K. a recognized AI superpower, DSIT now has a team of AI researchers with more than 50 years of collective experience – and wants more.

Ollie Ilott, who previously led the prime minister’s domestic private office, is the Taskforce director. Ian Hogarth, who co-founded early-stage venture capital firm Plural Platform, serves as the Taskforce chair.

Eleven weeks into its formation, the government’s startup is trying to move fast as Sunak wants the world to see the U.K. as a major AI player.

Alongside bringing in big names like Bengio, it has also struck partnerships with several non-profits, including the Center for AI Safety, the Collective Intelligence Project and ARC Evals to help guide the group.

Related:UK Back in EU Horizon Research Fold After Brexit Fallout

The first major test for the Frontier AI Taskforce is being front and center of AI experts and diplomats from across the world at the government’s global AI safety summit taking place this November.

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About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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