In a significant step towards safeguarding national security, the United Kingdom has officially classified Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a ‘chronic risk’ in its 2023 National Risk Register (NRR). This move underscores the need to tackle potential AI-related threats, including cyberattacks and cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
The NRR document recognizes AI as a long-term and persistent threat that could impact the safety, security, and critical systems of the nation. Unlike immediate dangers such as terrorist attacks, AI is now grouped alongside enduring risks. The UK government acknowledges the potential security risks associated with advanced AI technology, particularly the possibility of cyberattacks against the country. The document also highlights the evolving complexities of cybersecurity linked to the advancements in AI, including generative AI.
To address these challenges, the UK government has committed to hosting the world’s first global summit on AI Safety. This summit will bring together key countries, leading technology companies, and researchers to establish safety protocols for evaluating and supervising AI-related risks. The National AI Strategy, released in 2021, emphasizes the country’s shift towards an AI-driven economy, with a focus on research, development, and governance structures.
To effectively harness the benefits of AI while minimizing potential adverse consequences, a central risk mechanism will be established to monitor AI-related risks. While the NRR doesn’t provide an exhaustive analysis of AI hazards, it does raise concerns about disinformation and economic vulnerabilities.
The significance of this development cannot be overstated. AI and its governance have gained prominence on both bilateral and multilateral platforms, with many countries taking steps to regulate and mitigate AI risks. This recognition of AI as a strategic risk has broad implications, including misinformation and economic competitiveness. However, the report has faced criticism for its lack of detailed analysis of AI risks, prompting calls for enhanced monitoring of AI’s impact.
In a world increasingly reliant on AI, the UK’s proactive approach to addressing AI-related risks sets an important precedent for global AI governance. By acknowledging and prioritizing the challenges associated with AI, the UK aims to pave the way for safer and more secure AI-driven advancements in various sectors.