Britain Uses UN Speech to Show it Wants to Be a Leader on How World Handles AI

British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden addresses world leaders during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 22, 2023, in New York City. (Getty Images via AFP)
British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden addresses world leaders during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 22, 2023, in New York City. (Getty Images via AFP)
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Britain Uses UN Speech to Show it Wants to Be a Leader on How World Handles AI

British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden addresses world leaders during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 22, 2023, in New York City. (Getty Images via AFP)
British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden addresses world leaders during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 22, 2023, in New York City. (Getty Images via AFP)

Britain pitched itself to the world Friday as a ready leader in shaping an international response to the rise of artificial intelligence, with Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden telling the UN General Assembly his country was “determined to be in the vanguard.”

Touting the United Kingdom's tech companies, its universities and even Industrial Revolution-era innovations, he said the nation has “the grounding to make AI a success and make it safe.” He went on to suggest that a British AI task force, which is working on methods for assessing AI systems' vulnerability, could develop expertise to offer internationally.

His remarks at the assembly's annual meeting of world leaders previewed an AI safety summit that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is convening in November. Dowden's speech also came as other countries and multinational groups — including the European Union, the bloc that Britain left in 2020 — are making moves on artificial intelligence.

The EU this year passed pioneering regulations that set requirements and controls based on the level of risk that any given AI system poses, from low (such as spam filters) to unacceptable (for example, an interactive, children's toy that talks up dangerous activities).

The UN, meanwhile, is pulling together an advisory board to make recommendations on structuring international rules for artificial intelligence. Members will be appointed this month, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the General Assembly on Tuesday; the group's first take on a report is due by the end of the year.

Major US tech companies have acknowledged a need for AI regulations, though their ideas on the particulars vary. And in Europe, a roster of big companies such as French jetmaker Airbus signed an open letter to urging the EU to reconsider its rules, saying it would put European companies at a disadvantage.

“The starting gun has been fired on a globally competitive race in which individual companies as well as countries will strive to push the boundaries as far and fast as possible," Dowden said. He argued that “the most important actions we will take will be international.”

Listing hoped-for benefits — such improving disease detection and productivity — alongside artificial intelligence's potential to wreak havoc with deepfakes, cyberattacks and more, Dowden urged leaders not to get “trapped in debates about whether AI is a tool for good or a tool for ill.”

"It will be a tool for both,” he said.

It's “exciting. Daunting. Inexorable,” Dowden said, and the technology will test the international community “to show that it can work together on a question that will help to define the fate of humanity.”



8.5 Million Computers Running Windows Affected by Faulty Update from CrowdStrike

A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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8.5 Million Computers Running Windows Affected by Faulty Update from CrowdStrike

A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

As the world continues to recover from massive business and travel disruptions caused by a faulty software update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, malicious actors are trying to exploit the situation for their own gain.
Government cybersecurity agencies across the globe and even CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz are warning businesses and individuals around the world about new phishing schemes that involve malicious actors posing as CrowdStrike employees or other tech specialists offering to assist those recovering from the outage.
“We know that adversaries and bad actors will try to exploit events like this,” Kurtz said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to remain vigilant and ensure that you’re engaging with official CrowdStrike representatives.”
According to The Associated Press, the UK Cyber Security Center said they have noticed an increase in phishing attempts around this event.
Microsoft said 8.5 million devices running its Windows operating system were affected by the faulty cybersecurity update Friday that led to worldwide disruptions. That’s less than 1% of all Windows-based machines, Microsoft cybersecurity executive David Weston said in a blog post Saturday.
He also said such a significant disturbance is rare but “demonstrates the interconnected nature of our broad ecosystem.”
What's happening with air travel? By late morning on the US East Coast, airlines around the world had canceled more than 1,500 flights, far fewer than the 5,100-plus cancellations on Friday, according to figures from tracking service FlightAware.
Two-thirds of Saturday’s canceled flights occurred in the United States, where carriers scrambled to get planes and crews back into position after massive disruptions the day before. According to travel-data provider Cirium, US carriers canceled about 3.5% of their scheduled flights for Saturday. Only Australia was hit harder.
Canceled flights were running at about 1% in the United Kingdom, France and Brazil and about 2% in Canada, Italy and India among major air-travel markets.
Robert Mann, a former airline executive and now a consultant in the New York area, said it was unclear exactly why US airlines were suffering disproportionate cancellations, but possible causes include a greater degree of outsourcing of technology and more exposure to Microsoft operating systems that received the faulty upgrade from CrowdStrike.
How are healthcare systems holding up? Health care systems affected by the outage faced clinic closures, canceled surgeries and appointments and restricted access to patient records.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., said “steady progress has been made” to bring its servers back online and thanked its patients for being flexible during the crisis.
“Our teams will be working actively through the weekend as we continue to resolve remaining issues in preparation for the start of the work week,” the hospital wrote in a statement.
In Austria, a leading organization of doctors said the outage exposed the vulnerability of relying on digital systems. Harald Mayer, vice president of the Austrian Chamber of Doctors, said the outage showed that hospitals need to have analog backups to protect patient care.
The organization also called on governments to impose high standards in patient data protection and security, and on health providers to train staff and put systems in place to manage crises.
“Happily, where there were problems, these were kept small and short-lived and many areas of care were unaffected” in Austria, Mayer said.
The Schleswig-Holstein University Hospital in northern Germany, which canceled all elective procedures Friday, said Saturday that systems were gradually being restored and that elective surgery could resume by Monday.