Sunak eyes Songkick founder to chair government’s AI taskforce | Business News

The prime minister is installing a tech entrepreneur who co-founded music industry business Songkick to lead a £100m government task force to build the UK’s future artificial intelligence capabilities.

Sky News understands Ian Hogarth, who is now an investor in dozens of start-ups, is a leading candidate for chair of the Foundation Modeling Task Force (FMT) announced by Rishi Sunak in April.

A Whitehall source said Mr Hogarth had emerged as the front-runner for the job in recent days.

Foundational modeling working group being established to accelerate UK adoption of security artificial intelligence Models in areas such as “big language” platforms — such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard — have been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent months.

The government intends to model the COVID vaccine task force as a model and may allocate additional funding to it in the future, the sources said.

“The task force will play a key role in ensuring that the major multi-year funding announced in the computing budget is invested strategically to prioritize and strengthen the UK’s capacity in the underlying model,” the government said in April.

Last week, Mr Sunak held talks with US President Joe Biden to discuss the future opportunities and threats posed by artificial intelligence.

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The government then announced that the UK would host a global summit in the autumn to discuss regulatory “guardrails” that would mitigate the future risks of the technology.

The prime minister is determined to make the UK a global hub for the development and oversight of artificial intelligence technology as he seeks to demonstrate that a post-Brexit UK can become an international destination for major tech investment.

At the unveiling of the FMT, Mr Sunak said: “Harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence presents a huge opportunity to grow our economy, create better-paying jobs and build a better future through advances in healthcare and security.

“Through our new expert working group investing in emerging technologies, we can continue to lead the way in the development of safe and secure artificial intelligence as part of shaping a more innovative UK economy.”

Over the past month, he has met with the bosses of tech giants including OpenAI and Google parent Alphabet to discuss the sudden explosion of artificial intelligence across the economy.

Last week, Matt Clifford, another entrepreneur and chairman of the government’s Advanced Research and Innovation Agency, issued another warning about the technology.

“If we try to create artificial intelligence that is smarter than humans, but we don’t know how to control it, then that creates potential for all kinds of risks now and in the future…it should be right on the agenda of policymakers occupy a very important position,” he said.

According to the government’s April announcement, Mr Clifford also advised on the establishment of FMT.

A government insider said Mr Hogarth’s appointment could still fall through, but it was expected to be finalized soon, with London Tech Week taking place this week.

Mr Hogarth is Visiting Professor of Practice at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and an investor in more than 40 start-ups, according to an online biography.

He is also a partner at venture capital firm Plural Platforms.

He orchestrated the sale of Songkick after an antitrust case resulted in a $130 million settlement from Ticketmaster.

A government spokesman said: “The recruitment process for the Chair of the Foundation Modeling Working Group is still ongoing.”

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