Wednesday 1 November 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 1/11/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Talking tech: Rishi Sunak speaks about AI in London this week

Image: Getty Images

Technology / Ramsay Brown

AI, captain

The UK’s prime minister Rishi Sunak will open the country’s Artificial Intelligence Safety Summit today. Sunak has invited private and public sector leaders to the conference to discuss the importance of balancing innovation with safety in artificial intelligence (AI). It will be a closely watched and frustratingly private event held at Bletchley Park, a centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War. Since ChatGPT’s release 11 months ago, the idea of AI has exploded into boardrooms and living rooms alike. AI systems are increasingly affordable, prevalent and easy to use. Leaders, including former Google chairman Eric Schmidt, increasingly consider AI to be a new, general-purpose technology capable of transforming human civilisation. That’s why Downing Street is getting involved – and it’s not alone in its efforts. On Monday, the US government announced a sweeping executive order on AI. But both Biden and Sunak trail behind the European Commission’s AI Act, a GDPR-style super-regulation that aims to mitigate the technology’s risk to humans.

If the UK wishes to be a force in AI, then the summit needs to focus on aligning major labs, including OpenAI, Google DeepMind and Anthropic, over matters such as job displacement. The risks from this new technology are as significant as its rewards; losing control of cutting-edge, autonomous AI could be disastrous. Since much of the sector’s innovation happens privately, companies should also be more transparent about what they are developing to mitigate any potential downsides.

The Sunak administration won’t be able to take the AI trophy overnight, however, as nearly all AI developments currently take place in the US. The savvy thing to do would be to promote the UK as an innovation-friendly alternative to the EU when, and if, AI companies want to expand operations outside the US. While the best time for this summit was probably at the beginning of AI innovation, the second-best time is now.

Ramsay Brown is the CEO of AI trust company Mission Control AI and a senior research associate at the University of Cambridge. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte (centre) and Volodymyr Zelensky’s F-16 deal is taking off

Image: Reuters

Defence / Ukraine

Sky-high ambitions

The first US-made F-16 combat aircraft that The Netherlands promised to donate to Ukraine will arrive in Romania’s training centre within two weeks, according to Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte. Denmark, Norway and Belgium have also announced that they will donate F-16s to Ukraine but the exact date of the transfers remains unknown.

“Since the beginning of the war, Ukrainians have shown the world that they’re very quick with their studies,” Lada L Roslycky, founder of Black Trident, a defence and security consulting group in Kyiv, tells The Monocle Minute. “It’s important to deliver the aircraft as soon as possible and remove the technical blocks that stand in the way of training pilots.”

Image: Reuters

Diplomacy / China & USA

Warm-up act?

The 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum, China’s largest annual show of military diplomacy, wrapped up yesterday, having hosted delegations from 90 countries and international bodies. Perhaps its most significant attendee was top US Department of Defense official Xanthi Carras. The fact that China invited America at all – and that Washington accepted – suggests a willingness by both countries to re-establish more cordial relations.

On Monday, Beijing also took the unusual step of honouring two US Second World War veterans who had served in the Flying Tigers, an aviation unit that fought against imperial Japan. These warm gestures anticipate a tentatively scheduled meeting in November between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in San Francisco, which would mark their first face-to-face encounter since last year’s G20 summit in Bali. Against the backdrop of conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, a return to meaningful dialogue between the world’s two most powerful nations is sorely needed.

Culture / Portugal

Writing on the wall

Local journalism plays a crucial role in the cities it calls home – just take a new landmark mural unveiled in Lisbon this week as an example. A report by Mensagem de Lisboa newspaper uncovered the story of French-Jewish photographer Roger Kahan, who passed through the city in 1940 to document the influx of European refugees at the port of Lisbon. “Back then this was the only passage and safe route for those fleeing the Second World War,” Catarina Carvalho, Mensagem de Lisboa’s founder and editor in chief, tells Monocle. The publication wanted to highlight this part of the Portuguese capital’s history, so it partnered with the port of Lisbon and urban artist Vhils to create a mural based on one of Kahan’s photographs. The picture shows a woman sitting on a suitcase near a postbox, waiting to depart Lisbon. “You can see her sadness in the picture, which makes it such an important sight, especially in our current world,” says Carvalho. In addition to the mural, Mensagem de Lisboa also plans to launch a book about Kahan’s photographs.

For our full interview with Catarina Carvalho, tune in to Tuesday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.

Beyond the Headlines

The List / AI conferences

Tech a seat at the table

With the UK’s first summit on artificial intelligence taking place today, here are three other AI conferences to keep an eye on this month.

1. AI World Barcelona.
The event takes place as a virtual business conference on 15 November and aims to bring together AI experts, investors and top businesses, such as ChatGPT, Midjourney and Dall-e, for a series of panel discussions and hands-on workshops on how the technology can benefit businesses.

2. Data Science Conference.
The conference in Belgrade, which bills itself as the world’s largest AI event, will take place between 20 and 24 November. It will feature 500 speakers and more than 3,000 attendees.

3. The Intelligent Automation Exchange.
North America’s most exclusive gathering for AI will take place in Austin, Texas, from 14 to 15 November. As an invite-only event, it allows attendees to dig deep into AI’s current outlook and come up with ways to position themselves at the forefront of the technology.

Image: Sugimoto Studio

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Culture

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is famed for mixing wit and commentary with exquisitely tuned craftsmanship and bold conceptual thinking. The Japanese artist is the subject of a new exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery. We speak to Sugimoto, plus the show’s curator, Ralph Rugoff, and the director of photography gallery Black Box Projects, Kathlene Fox-Davies.


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