March 2, 2024

UK to invest 300M pounds in 2 AI supercomputers; Harris presses for AI safety

The U.K. says the investments will help its local scientific talent have the tools they need to ensure that the most advanced AI models are up to safety standards.

The United Kingdom announced on Nov. 1 after the conclusion of the first day of its global AI Safety Summit that it will increase funding for two artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputers to 300 million British pounds ($363.57 million).

These supercomputers, also known as the “AI Research Resource,” are intended to support research into creating safer advanced AI models, which was the primary topic of the summit.

In a post on X, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented that, as frontier AI models become more powerful, this investment will “make sure Britain’s scientific talent have the tools they need to make the most advanced models of AI safe.”

The two new supercomputers will give U.K. researchers more than 30 times the capacity of the country’s current largest public AI computing tools. The computers should be up and running by summer 2024.

This development also bolsters the U.K.’s quickest computer, which will be the Isambard-AI. It will be built by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and equipped with 5,000 advanced Nvidia AI chips.

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The second machine, called “Dawn,” will be created with Dell and powered via 1,000 AI chips from Intel. In August, it was reported that the U.K. spent $130 million on AI chips.

According to the U.K.’s announcement, Isambard-AI will be able to compute over 200 “petaflops,” or 200,000,000,000,000,000 calculations (200 quadrillion) each second.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris was also in attendance on the first day of the summit. Prior to this, she and Sunak agreed on the need for “close collaboration on the opportunities and risks posed by frontier AI.”

In her speech, Harris warned of potential “cyberattacks at a scale beyond anything we have seen before to AI-formulated bioweapons that could endanger the lives of millions.”

She said the moment is “urgent” for collective action on the matter.

These remarks from the U.S. vice president came only a few days after the Biden administration released an executive order on AI safety standards it plans to implement.

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