Boost for Sunak as Elon Musk says he will attend the UK's AI summit

Boost for Rishi Sunak as Elon Musk says he will attend the UK’s AI summit at Bletchley Park this week

  • Several world leaders including Trudeau and Macron are not expected to attend

Elon Musk will attend Rishi Sunak’s international summit on artificial intelligence this week, after warning of the ‘civilisational risk’ posed by the technology.

The world’s richest man has agreed to travel to the UK to take part in the Bletchley Park event, which aims to address the potential threats posed by the fast-developing computer systems.

It is a significant coup for the Prime Minister, who has seen several world leaders turn down an invitation and faced criticism at home for inviting China.

Speaking after a briefing for US senators last month, Tesla founder Mr Musk said: ‘The consequences of AI going wrong are severe so we have to be proactive rather than reactive. The question is really one of civilisational risk.

‘It’s not like… one group of humans versus another. It’s like, hey, this is something that’s potentially risky for all humans everywhere.’

Rishi Sunak has been handed a boost after Elon Musk announced he would attend the international summit on the risk posed by AI at Bletchley Park this week

Asked whether AI could destroy mankind, Mr Musk said: ‘There is some chance that is above zero that AI will kill us all. I think it’s low. But if there’s some chance, I think we should also consider the fragility of human civilisation.’

The summit, which brings together senior politicians and figures from the industry, begins tomorrow. Mr Musk is expected to attend on Thursday, the second and final day of the event. Downing Street said the PM had agreed to take part in a potentially risky ‘in conversation’ event with the maverick entrepreneur on his social media channel, formerly Twitter but now renamed X, after the summit.

The announcement of Mr Musk’s attendance came after No 10 was forced to deny claims that the summit is being snubbed by world leaders. The White House has confirmed that US vice-president Kamala Harris will attend, rather than Joe Biden, while Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz are not expected to attend.

Asked if Mr Sunak felt he was being snubbed by international counterparts, his official spokesman said: ‘No, not at all. We remain confident that we have brought together the right group of world experts in the AI space, leading businesses, and indeed world leaders and representatives who will be able to take on this vital issue.’

Mr Musk’s decision to the final day of Sunak’s event comes despite several world leaders including Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau declining to attend

The spokesman said it was a ‘significant achievement’ to host the first global summit dedicated to AI safety.

Mr Sunak has faced a backlash for inviting China to attend the summit.

Former PM Liz Truss said she was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the decision, adding: ‘The regime in Beijing has a fundamentally different attitude to the West about AI, seeing it as a means of state control and a tool for national security.’

No 10 is said to have been so keen to secure attendance from Beijing that an initial request was recently ‘upgraded’ to invite president Xi Jinping. However, it was reported yesterday that Beijing is set to send only deputy technology minister Wu Zhaohui in his place.

Huawei gives £28m to Cambridge University

Cambridge University has secured up to £28million of funding from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to research AI and cybersecurity

Cambridge University has been given up to £28 million by Huawei to fund sensitive research into artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, a report has revealed.

It even received money after the Government opted to ban the Chinese telecoms giant from core parts of the UK 5G network in 2020, citing security concerns.

Using Freedom of Information requests, the UK-China Transparency (UKTC) charity found that Huawei and its subsidiaries had donated ‘roughly £28 million’ in cash for high-tech research since 2016. Tory MP Alicia Kearns, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said Cambridge should be asking itself ‘hard questions’.

She told The Times: ‘Growing evidence indicates a systematic attempt by the CCP (Communist Party of China) to infiltrate British academia and exfiltrate critical research and technologies.’

But a Cambridge spokesman said: ‘The university stopped all new research and funding from Huawei more than a year ago.’

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