President Biden warns that AI has the potential to do ‘great damage’ if it is not controlled as he backs British efforts to strengthen safety
- Joe Biden met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday
- They agreed to strengthen economic ties and safeguards for AI
President Joe Biden on Thursday warned of challenges posed by ‘staggering’ advances in Artificial Intelligence technology as he met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House.
Sunak is positioning the United Kingdom as a leader in the field, and also wants London to be the base for an A.I. regulator.
He and Biden agreed to strengthen economic ties and work on A.I. safety.
At a joint news conference, the president said: ‘I don’t think ever in the history of human endeavor has there been as fundamental potential technological change as is presented by artificial intelligence.
‘It is staggering.’
President Joe Biden listens as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday
But that came with risks, he said.
‘How do we deal with this?’ he asked. ‘It has not only the potential to cure cancer, and many other things that are just beyond our comprehension, but it has the potential to do great damage if it’s not controlled.’
Sunak announced that his government will bring together politicians, scientists and tech executives for an A.I. safety conference later this year.
He said it was essential to ensure that ‘paradigm-shifting new technologies’ were harnessed for good causes.
The pair also signed the ‘Atlantic Declaration,’ setting out greater cooperation on urgent economic challenges in fields such as clean energy and critical minerals as well as A.I.
At the end of the press conference Biden faced awkward questions about Republican allegations of corruption.
Reporters shouted questions as the two prepared to leave the stage after spending 40 minutes responding to four pre-selected journalists.
As the hubbub died away, Biden was asked about Republican claims that a secret F.B.I. document contains evidence that Biden was caught up in a $5 million bribery scheme when he was vice president. What would he say to congressional Republicans?
‘Where’s the money?’ he said.
‘I’m joking. It’s a load of malarkey.’
President Joe Biden shrugged off a question about allegations of his family’s corruption on Thursday at the end of a press conference, saying: ‘Where’s the money?’
His supporters insist the claims are part of a political smear, and point out that the F.B.I. decided not to pursue the allegations.
But Rep. James Comer, Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has pushed for the document to be released and last month subpoenaed the F.B.I. for it.
He and Sen. Chuck Grassley, claim it ‘describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.’
They have also said it relates to Ukraine.
Biden’s flippant response infuriated Rep. Nancy Mace, who sits on the Oversight Committee.
‘We don’t find selling out your country funny,’ she tweeted
‘Prove us wrong by releasing your and your family’s unredacted bank records. The F.B.I. can’t protect you forever.’
White House officials have repeatedly expressed frustration at being asked about what they say are unfounded allegations, and the F.B.I. has cautioned that the information is unverified.
Biden was also asked what he was doing to protect the independence of the Justice Department, after years of attacks by Donald Trump when he was in and out of office.
You’d notice, I have never once – not one single time – suggested [to] the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge,’ he said. ‘I’m honest.’
Rep. James Comey, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has led the charge, subpoenaing the FBI for a document he says contains damning allegations
Biden and his son Hunter are accused of being ensnared in a cash-for-policy scandal
Earlier Biden managed to botch the introductions as he welcomed Sunak to the White House.
‘Well Mr. President,’ he began as they sat down in the Oval Office before correcting himself. ‘Mr President? I just demoted you.’
Sunak laughed off the gaffe as Biden continued: ‘Mr Prime Minister, it’s great to have you back.’
Sunak is making his first visit to the White House.
Biden, 80, has been accused frequently of snubbing the United Kingdom in favor of Ireland, the land of his ancestors, and has botched the pronunciation of Sunak’s name in the past.
Sunak arrives on a mission to build better ties as his country seeks to find its new place in the world after leaving the European Union.
He came armed with gifts, presenting the president with a personalized waxed jacket. The $400 navy blue Bedale Barbour jacket was made near Sunak’s parliamentary constituency in north-east England.
President Joe Biden welcomed British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the White House on Thursday. They were due to discuss economic ties, Ukraine and artificial intelligence
He also presented the president with a copy of a book written by his British great-great grandfather.
‘Naval Discipline,’ was written by Christopher Biden in the mid 19th century and covers the Royal Navy’s rules on mutiny.
The president mentioned it in a speech during his visit to Northern Ireland in April.
However, U.S. officials have dashed hopes of a free trade agreement between Washington and London.
Instead their talks will focus on other forms of economic ties, the dangers of artificial intelligence and Ukraine.
Sunak is making his first visit to the White House since taking office in October
Sunak was guest of honor at UK-US friendship night at the Washington Nationals game on Wednesday evening. It included a fly past of US and UK aircraft
‘And as we’ve done before, the US and the UK, have stood together to support Ukraine and stand up for the values of democracy and freedom and make sure that they prevail, as I know we will,’ said Sunak.
‘But also I completely agree with what you said, our economies are seeing, perhaps the biggest transformation since the Industrial Revolution, as new technologies provide incredible opportunities, but also give our adversaries more tools for harm.’
Biden brought up the history of the Oval Office, including the famous wartime meetings between wartime president and prime minister.
‘You know, Prime Minister Churchill and Roosevelt met here a little over seventy years ago,’ he said. ‘And they asserted that the strength of the partnership between Great Britain, the United States was the strength of the free world.’
He said there were dozens of stories about Churchill’s time visiting, and his habit of taking baths.
Sunak came armed with gifts, presenting the president with a personalized waxed jacket. The $400 navy blue Bedale Barbour jacket (similar pictured above) was made near Sunak’s parliamentary constituency in north-east England
Prime Minister Winston Churchill (L) and President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House
Sunak continued: ‘Wandering around at three in the morning … Winston Churchill bothering Mrs. Roosevelt.’
‘Don’t worry. You won’t see me that bothering you and the first lady.
His government is keen to build better relations with Washington, forging closer economic ties as London finds its new place in the world after leaving the European Union.
After the turbulence of recent years — when Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss all came and went from Number 10 in quick succession — Sunak is intent on portraying a more stable presence.
British officials and ministers have also quietly been trying to shore up U.S. support for Ukraine, amid fears that America First Republicans in Congress could cut off the supply of arms and ammunition.
At the same time, Sunak’s defense secretary Ben Wallace is among the possible contenders to take over as N.A.T.O. secretary general when Jens Stoltenberg steps down. Sunak will know that U.S. backing is essential to win the post, raising questions about whether the prime minister plans to use his White House visit to lobby Biden.
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