Sunak and Google CEO discuss ‘striking right balance’ on AI regulation

Rishi Sunak has met with Google’s chief executive to discuss “striking the right balance” between artificial intelligence (AI) regulation and innovation, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister spoke to Sundar Pichai, also head of Google’s parent company Alphabet, about the importance of ensuring the right “guard rails” are in place to ensure tech safety, No 10 said.

Google CEO visit to UK
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

It follows a similar meeting between Mr Sunak and leading figures in AI about the need for regulation to protect against potential dangers, ranging from disinformation and national security to “existential threats”.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister met with Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet – the parent company of Google – at the Government’s Darlington Economic Campus.

“The Prime Minister thanked Mr Pichai for Google’s role at the heart of the UK’s technology ecosystem, and they spoke about opportunities for growth in the industry.

“On artificial intelligence, they spoke about striking the right balance to ensure the right regulatory guardrails are in place, whilst driving forward innovation.

“They discussed possible opportunities for industry and international collaboration on safe and responsible AI development and agreed to remain in touch on this issue.”

Mr Sunak has advocated the technology’s benefits for national security and the economy, but growing concerns have been raised with the increasing prominence of the ChatGPT bot.

As well as the issues discussed by Mr Sunak and tech figures, jobs are also being put at risk by the rapidly evolving technology.

Last week BT Group said it will cut up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade amid plans to shift to AI and automated services.

Former Government chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that AI could have an impact on jobs comparable to the Industrial Revolution.

Earlier this month, Geoffrey Hinton, the man widely seen as the godfather of AI, warned some of the dangers of AI chatbots are “quite scary” as he quit his job at Google.

Mr Sunak has been hardening his tone towards AI. The Government’s policy paper on the technology published less than two months ago was titled: A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation.