Tony Blair: AI’s impact comparable to the Industrial Revolution | Political News

When it comes to the topic of artificial intelligence, Sir Tony Blair is well aware of the technology’s potential to change the way we live.

“I think it’s comparable to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century,” he said.

“I think so [technology] This is already the case, but generative AI takes it even further. “

The former prime minister’s eponymous institute is writing a paper on artificial intelligence, while he gives lectures and writes newspaper opinion pieces about the technology.

Sir Tony wants us to understand risk and reward.

“It’s a very good technology, but it can also be very bad,” he told me.

“The advantages are huge. It could change the way we live and work, it could make a huge difference in health care and education, it could change the way governments configure themselves.

“It’s going to change business work – it’s going to dramatically increase productivity.

“On the other hand, you can get disinformation deepfakes, for example, that people use to make bioterror weapons.

“What does the government need to do with it? It needs to understand it, take hold of it and take advantage of it. Seize the opportunity and mitigate the risk.”

The question that prompted the answer was written by an AI chatbot, Chat GPT.

FILE PHOTO: OpenAI's logo is displayed near the responses of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, on its website, in this illustration taken Feb. 9, 2023.REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo
Chat GPT.file picture

It asks Sir Tony for his views on the potential benefits and risks of artificial intelligence, and how governments and society should respond to such a rapidly developing technology.

“Well, that’s a pretty obvious question,” he replied.

Still, he answered.

I asked him to describe the moment we were in.

“It’s akin to the Industrial Revolution,” he said. “Just as that moment changed humanity, it changed nations, this moment and generative AI will do the same.”

Are we ready? Lord, he reacted more cautiously.

Asked if British politicians were naive, he said no, but said people were ignorant of the power and use of the technology.

“Part of the problem is that the changemakers are in one room and the policy makers are in another,” he said.

The US, China and the private sector are stealing the show – Sir Tony says countries such as Singapore are also catching up with the UK.

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“China is as much a leader in artificial intelligence as the United States. Like many other things, the 21st century will be determined in part by the competition between the two countries [China and the US]”.

But Sir Tony said the competing superpowers must find a way to cooperate, especially on climate change and global health.

“Is it technically possible to do that? I don’t know.”

So what about Britain, can it still be a leader?

“We’re strong in life sciences, we’re strong in climate, we’re strong in artificial intelligence itself,” he told me.

“We need to keep our universities strong, we need to invest heavily in infrastructure, building our computing capacity.

“There’s a whole package of things we can do, and it has to start at the top.”

One positive, Sir Tony said, was that the UK hosted a major AI conference this autumn.

“One of the reasons I think it’s a good idea is to explore all the different possibilities in regulation and try to bring the leading countries together,” he said.

“At the very least, Europe and the US should try to cooperate on this.”

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Can artificial intelligence do Sir Tony Blair’s job?

As a final question, I asked whether AI could do his job as Prime Minister.

“No. Impossible,” he said with a smile.

But he said AI could have helped in some parts of his job.

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“It can make decision-making more efficient. It can replace some processes in government.

“For example, AI is already being used for planning around the world, and one country in Europe is now using it to process small claims instead of going through expensive court processes.

“In the end, maybe it’s best to think of it as helping people make decisions.

“But at the end of the day you have to retain the human decision-making ability, but the technology informs the human better.”

As we left, Sir Tony told me how his kids asked an AI to make a rap song using the text of one of his speeches.

What’s good? He didn’t say…

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