Inviting China to UK AI summit a mistake, Truss tells Sunak – as it happened

Inviting China to AI summit a mistake, says Truss

Liz Truss has written to the prime minister to say she is “deeply disturbed” that China has been invited to next week’s AI safety summit at Bletchley Park.

She said China views AI as “a means of state control and a tool for national security”.

In a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, she said:

We should be working with our allies, not those seeking to subvert freedom and democracy.

She is calling for the invitation be rescinded.

China should not be invited to the UK’s AI Summit at Bletchley Park.

We should be working with our allies, not those seeking to subvert freedom and democracy.

I have written to the Prime Minister requesting that the invitation be rescinded. pic.twitter.com/tQDe2P3kak

— Liz Truss (@trussliz) October 26, 2023

Updated at 14.15 BST

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Summary

Here’s a roundup of the key developments from the day:

  • Liz Truss has written to the prime minister to say she is “deeply disturbed” that China has been invited to next week’s AI safety summit at Bletchley Park. She said China views AI as “a means of state control and a tool for national security”. She is calling for the invitation be rescinded.

  • Rishi Sunak defended his decision to invite China but admitted that engaging with China on artificial intelligence may not be successful.

  • Artificial intelligence brings new dangers to society that must be addressed “head on”, the prime minister has warned. Rishi Sunak made the comments during his speech ahead of next week’s landmark global safety summit at Bletchley Park, where politicians and tech executives from around the world will discuss how the technology should be regulated.

  • Rishi Sunak said that the government would not “rush to regulate” AI. The prime minister also announced that the UK government was establishing the “world’s first” artificial intelligence safety institute.

  • A potential byelection in Peter Bone’s Wellingborough constituency is likely to be “challenging”, the deputy prime minister said. After MPs approved a six-week suspension against Bone for bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member, a recall petition will be held, which will trigger a byelection if it is signed by 10% of voters in his Northamptonshire constituency.

  • Rishi Sunak said byelections are “always difficult for incumbent governments”, adding he was “confident” his government could lower taxes after inflation was “brought down”.

  • Rishi Sunak signalled he was “confident” his administration would be able to cut taxes before the next election. But the prime minister said it remained the “right economic policy” to focus on delivering his pledge of halving inflation by the end of the year

  • Boris Johnson’s pandemic-era chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, will give evidence to the Covid inquiry next week, alongside other senior officials from Number 10 during that period. The inquiry confirmed that Cummings will appear on 31 October.

  • The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has been accused of apparent plagiarism in her new book about female economists. An examination by the Financial Times of the book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics, found more than 20 examples of passages from other sources that appear to be either lifted wholesale, or reworked with minor changes, without acknowledgment.

  • Parliament has been officially prorogued until 7 November for the start of the new parliamentary session and the king’s speech, which will set out the government’s future agenda, including legislative plans.

We are closing this liveblog shortly. Thanks so much for joining us.

Our blog on the Israel-Hamas war is still live:

Updated at 17.21 BST

Helen PiddHelen Pidd

A Green party candidate and his mother have been arrested on suspicion of stalking their local Conservative MP.

Chris Hallam, 48, and his mother, Christine, 76, former teachers from Buxton in Derbyshire, were arrested in September after Robert Largan, the MP for High Peak, accused them of harassing and stalking him.

They are now on bail and are banned from going within 50 metres of him and three members of his staff and within 5 metres of his office.

Chris Hallam stood for the Green party in the High Peak borough council elections in May and was beaten by one Labour party candidate and another from the Conservative party.

He is also High Peak’s Green party campaign coordinator, and he claims he cannot carry out his duties because of the stringent bail conditions imposed after his arrest.

The Hallams say their only crime was turning up to all of Largan’s constituency events after the MP blocked them on Facebook, and asking questions about local and national issues.

Largan reported the Hallams to the police in September after sending them a “cease and desist” letter on 7 July, which informed them that “your persistent actions over the last three months, including but not limited to attending constituency surgeries around High Peak after being specifically asked not to attend in person, and disrupting the surgeries by your aggressive behaviour, are unacceptable.”

The letter said the behaviour had continued “despite advice from Derbyshire police that you should not attend my surgeries in person”.

Ordering them to stop “all such activities” immediately, Largan wrote:

I believe your behaviour has caused harassment, alarm and distress to myself and my staff on a number of occasions.

Warning them that he may contact the police if they ignored the letter, he said they could raise issues with him regarding constituency matters only by writing a letter or emailing him.

Hallam admits that he and his mother ignored the letter and turned up to see Largan at a branch of Morrison’s supermarket in September. On arrival, he said, two police community support officers (PCSOs), as well as Morrison’s security guards, prevented them from speaking to the MP.

Read the full story here:

Updated at 16.57 BST

Parliament has been officially prorogued until 7 November for the start of the new parliamentary session and the king’s speech, which will set out the government’s future agenda, including legislative plans.

Updated at 16.48 BST

Rishi Sunak signalled he is “confident” his administration will be able to cut taxes before the next election.

But the prime minister said it remained the “right economic policy” to focus on delivering his pledge of halving inflation by the end of the year, PA Media reports.

The British leader included the commitment as one of his five promises to the electorate during a speech in January.

Sunak, speaking after his artificial intelligence address on Thursday, said:

As we bring inflation down, then is the time to look forward and of course I want to deliver a lower tax economy for the country.

And I’m confident that we will, but first we have to make sure that inflation is brought down.

There has been clamour from the right wing of his Conservative backbenches to introduce tax cuts before the nation goes to the polls to elect the next Westminster government.

A host of Tory MPs, including the former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, have signed-up to a pledge not to vote for chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement next month if it increases the overall tax burden on the UK.

A general election is due to be held before January 2025, with speculation over when Sunak will decide to go to the country.

Updated at 16.49 BST

Summary

Here’s a roundup of the key developments from the day so far:

  • Liz Truss has written to the prime minister to say she is “deeply disturbed” that China has been invited to next week’s AI safety summit at Bletchley Park. She said China views AI as “a means of state control and a tool for national security”. She is calling for the invitation be rescinded.

  • Rishi Sunak defended his decision to invite China but admitted that engaging with China on artificial intelligence may not be successful.

  • Artificial intelligence brings new dangers to society that must be addressed “head on”, the prime minister has said. Rishi Sunak made the comments during his speech before next week’s landmark global safety summit at Bletchley Park, where politicians and tech executives from around the world will discuss how the technology should be regulated.

  • Rishi Sunak said the government would not “rush to regulate” AI. The prime minister also announced that the UK government was establishing the “world’s first” artificial intelligence safety institute.

  • A potential byelection in Peter Bone’s Wellingborough constituency is likely to be “challenging”, the deputy prime minister said. After MPs approved a six-week suspension of Bone for bullying and sexual misconduct against a staff member, a recall petition will be held, which will trigger a byelection if it is signed by 10% of voters in his Northamptonshire constituency.

  • Rishi Sunak said byelections are “always difficult for incumbent governments”, adding he was “confident” his government could lower taxes after inflation was “brought down”.

  • UK government ministers are to hold an emergency committee meeting as work intensifies to secure “pauses” in the conflict between Israel and Hamas after a tank raid on Gaza. Oliver Dowden, the deputy prime minister, said he would chair a Cobra meeting with figures from the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Office on Thursday morning.

  • Boris Johnson’s pandemic-era chief adviser Dominic Cummings will give evidence to the Covid inquiry next week, alongside other senior officials from Number 10 during that period. The inquiry confirmed that Cummings will appear on 31 October.

  • The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has been accused of apparent plagiarism in her new book about female economists. An examination by the Financial Times of the book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics, found more than 20 examples of passages from other sources that appear to be either lifted wholesale, or reworked with minor changes, without acknowledgment.

Updated at 16.50 BST

Inviting China to AI summit a mistake, says Truss

Liz Truss has written to the prime minister to say she is “deeply disturbed” that China has been invited to next week’s AI safety summit at Bletchley Park.

She said China views AI as “a means of state control and a tool for national security”.

In a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, she said:

We should be working with our allies, not those seeking to subvert freedom and democracy.

She is calling for the invitation be rescinded.

China should not be invited to the UK’s AI Summit at Bletchley Park.

We should be working with our allies, not those seeking to subvert freedom and democracy.

I have written to the Prime Minister requesting that the invitation be rescinded. pic.twitter.com/tQDe2P3kak

— Liz Truss (@trussliz) October 26, 2023

Updated at 14.15 BST

Dan MilmoDan Milmo

Rishi Sunak has announced the establishment of a UK AI safety institute but has declined to support a moratorium on advanced development of the technology.

The prime minister said the institute would be a world first and would test new types of AI for a range of risks from generating misinformation to posing an existential threat.

Announcing the move before next week’s global summit on AI safety at Bletchley Park, Sunak said the institute would “advance the world’s knowledge of AI safety”.

in a speech at the Royal Society, an association of world-leading scientists, Sunak said:

It will carefully examine, evaluate, and test new types of AI so that we understand what each new model is capable of.

He said it would explore “all the risks, from social harms like bias and misinformation, through to the most extreme risks of all”. A prototype of the safety institute already exists in the UK’s frontier AI taskforce, which is scrutinising the safety of cutting-edge AI models and was established this year.

However, Sunak said a pause in developing powerful models was not feasible.

Asked after the speech if he would support a moratorium or ban on developing a highly capable form of AI known as artificial general intelligence, he said:

I don’t think it’s practical or enforceable. As a matter of principle, the UK has rightly been an economy and society that has encouraged innovation for all the good that it can bring. And I think that is the right approach.

The debate over AI safety reached a new peak in March when an open letter signed by thousands of prominent tech figures including Elon Musk called for an immediate pause in the creation of “giant” AIs for at least six months. It warned that AI labs were “locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control”.

A separate statement signed by tech executives in May, and referenced by Sunak on Thursday, referred to treating the extinction risks from AI development on a par with nuclear weapons and pandemics.

Read the full story here:

Updated at 13.57 BST

Severin CarrellSeverin Carrell

Humza Yousaf has asked one of Scotland’s senior legal officers to investigate complaints from the UK Covid inquiry that his government has failed to hand over WhatsApp messages and other social media discussions.

The first minister was challenged about the allegations by Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, during first minister’s questions on Thursday, after complaints earlier to the UK hearing by Jamie Dawson KC, a Scottish counsel to the inquiry.

Ross accused the Scottish government of refusing to comply with the inquiry’s request, which would cover text, Telegram and Signal app messages, made earlier this year.

Ross asked:

Where are the messages; where have they gone and has the Scottish government deleted any requests?

He said it emerged last year that the first minister and four other ministers did use WhatsApp to discuss government business. During heated exchanges with Yousaf, Ross added:

It would be a shocking display of secrecy; it would potentially break the law.

Yousaf retorted that unlike the UK government, his administration did not take decisions via WhatsApp. He insisted he, his ministers and his officials were aware of their legal duties to retain that information and that they were bound by a “do not destroy” policy.

Even so he said he had asked the solicitor general, Ruth Charteris KC, to investigate the inquiry’s complaints earlier this morning.

I can give an absolute assurance to those families listening, where we hold any relevant information that will be passed on.

Ross’s line of attack follows the controversy which enveloped the former prime minister Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and the UK government over their alleged failure to disclose messages to the UK Covid inquiry.

Aamer Anwar, the lead solicitor for the Scottish Covid Bereaved family group, said the disclosures at the UK hearing were “devastating”.

He said:

The families we represent deserve the truth. The Scottish Covid Bereaved find it inconceivable that the most senior figures in the Scottish government from former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, [deputy first minister] John Swinney, [finance secretary] Kate Forbes to the present first minister, Humza Yousaf, failed to retain their WhatsApp messages over the two-year period of the pandemic.

Updated at 13.32 BST

Kamala Harris, the USvice-president, has confirmed she will attend a landmark AI safety summit being held in the UK next week.

Rishi Sunak has invited world leaders – including from China – and tech bosses to Bletchley Park to discuss how the technology should be regulated.

Updated at 13.37 BST

The DUP leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said “significant gaps” remain between his party and the government in talks over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

He joined other Northern Ireland party leaders in Belfast for a meeting with a delegation of US business leaders.

Donaldson said:

We meet regularly as party leaders and we have been doing that over the past number of months.

There is a lot of cooperation, a lot of talking between the parties, that has been going on for weeks in anticipation that at some stage, hopefully soon, we may be in a position to see a government formed.

But we are not there yet. There are still gaps to be closed, there are still issues that need to be resolved in our dialogue with the government, but we are working each and every week to resolve those issues.

I think that we have made progress, but there are still significant gaps in terms of what we need to ensure that the new arrangements which replace the Northern Ireland protocol work for Northern Ireland, that they enable us to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom in a way where those barriers created by the protocol have been removed in terms of the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, or Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Updated at 12.33 BST

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