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  • Tech Journalist

Who is Ian Hogarth: Introducing the man leading AI Safety in the UK

Meet Ian Hogarth, the newly appointed chair of the UK government's Foundation Model Taskforce, dedicated to researching and advancing AI safety.

With the increasing adoption of new AI systems, the Taskforce aims to establish public consensus on the safety of machine learning (ML) models by collaborating with industry partners and sector experts.

Hogarth has an impressive background as a tech investor. He co-founded Songkick, a concert service, and established the investment firm Plural Platform, which focuses on organizing venture capital for experienced founders seeking independence, affectionately referred to as "the unemployables." Hogarth has invested in over 40 startups specializing in ML and AI through his firm.

His educational journey began with engineering studies at Cambridge University, followed by a specialization in machine learning with an MA degree. Hogarth is a visiting professor at University College London, affiliated with its Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). He has also been a co-author of the annual State of AI report since 2018, providing valuable insights into the development of AI.

According to the 2022 State of AI report, the UK is leading the way in addressing AI risks. It highlighted the need for more AI safety, with 69% of surveyed ML experts expressing this concern. The report predicted that over $100 million would be invested in organizations dedicated to "AI alignment" in 2023, acknowledging the need to catch up on safety measures as AI development accelerates.

The Task Force aims to assess AI risks by bringing together experts from academia, government, and industry. It seeks to establish internationally implementable guardrails, solidify the UK's position as an AI research leader, and enhance global utilization of this technology. This endeavor plays a crucial role in the UK's AI regulation strategy, which has been trailing behind the EU.

The government compares the Taskforce to the successful Vaccine Task Force that expedited vaccine delivery during the early days of the pandemic. Its purpose is to ensure the responsible and ethical development of cutting-edge AI solutions. The goal is to position the UK at the forefront of AI utilization for economic growth.

Ian Hogarth's initial responsibility as the Taskforce chair will lay the groundwork for the upcoming AI summit in the UK. Initially funded with £100 million, the Taskforce is expected to play a vital role in the country's AI ambitions moving forward.

Foundation models, which leverage vast training data to generate a wide range of outputs, are fundamental to generative AI. This topic has garnered significant attention across industries, with tools like ChatGPT and Bard sparking public interest in the technology. Foundation models have potential applications beyond chatbots and can provide valuable solutions in high-risk sectors like pharmaceuticals and energy.

The Taskforce's mission is to enhance public perception of foundation models by conducting comprehensive risk assessments for different systems. Through research and the upcoming summit, it aims to establish shared approaches to AI regulation, ethics, and security standards. Private AI companies have already agreed to provide the Taskforce with early access to specific models to facilitate safety evaluation.


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