Ian Hogarth to lead UK’s government’s AI taskforce

AI specialist and tech entrepreneur will chair government’s Foundation Model Taskforce, reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Technology Secretary. 

The Foundation Model Taskforce was set up to lead research aiming to drive forward the safe and reliable development of foundation models for AI. These are general-purpose AI systems trained on massive data sets. They currently power popular new services such as ChatGPT, Google Bard and Claude but the hope is they could be applied to tasks across the economy.Five robot toys, blue and purple in colour

The taskforce set up to explore this is modelled on the successful Vaccine Taskforce and backed by an initial £100m government investment. Now a leading authority on AI has been announced as chair of the AI taskforce. 

Ian Hogarth is the founder of start-up Songkick – a concert-tracking service – and venture capital fund Plural. He’s also a visiting professor at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, University College London, and since 2018 has co-authored the annual State of AI report.  

Under Hogarth’s leadership, and with a combination of expertise from government, industry and academia, the taskforce will look at the risks surrounding AI, carry out research on AI safety and inform broader work on the development of international ‘guardrails’. These include shared safety and security standards and infrastructure that could be put in place to address risks. 

‘UK scientists and entrepreneurs have made many important contributions to the field of AI,’ says Hogarth, ‘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.’ 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak adds: ‘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. It will ensure we do things differently and move with the same pace and vigour as we rise to meet the task ahead.’ 

Technology Secretary Chloe Smith says: ‘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.’ 

Many companies already working in AI have committed to working with the taskforce, for example in providing early or priority access to models. will, of course, report on progress. 

In related news, the government announced £54m for UK universities to develop cutting-edge, secure and trustworthy AI research. 

Photo by Eric Krull


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