Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are growing here and abroad. Israel and the US say a ceasefire would only allow Hamas to regroup but that the return of all the hostages would be a necessary precondition if there were one. The leader of Hezbollah blamed the conflict on the US and claimed that the group were already part of the war, though he distanced himself and Iran from the October 7th attacks.
Ursula Von der Leyen is visiting Kyiv, and has reassured President Zelensky that EU support will continue despite the focus of attention shifting to Gaza. She also hinted that Brussels will recommend that EU countries open negotiations with Ukraine on joining the bloc when it publishes a report later this month. There have been reports that US and EU officials have been talking to the Ukrainian government about opening peace talks with Russia.
Von der Leyen in Kyiv
The first international summit on AI safety, hosted by the Prime Minister in Bletchley Park, concluded with a joint statement by officials from 28 countries, including the US and China, committing to cooperation on limiting the risks from AI. The Prime Minister also announced a £225 million investment to build a new supercomputer at Bristol University.
Austria has adopted a Rwanda-style migrant scheme after agreeing to cooperate with the UK government on off-shoring asylum claims. Suella Braverman met her Austrian counterpart in Vienna to sign the agreement. The German government is also considering a similar scheme. If they do implement such a policy, they would be joining Denmark, who already have a scheme in place.
Edinburgh City Council declared a housing emergency this week, months after Nicola Sturgeon introduced rent caps. The SNP, instead of scrapping the discredited policy, have doubled down by closing a loophole which allowed larger rent increases when new tenants moved in. Calls for rent controls are common on the political left, and Sadiq Khan has expressed his intention to introduce them in London should Labour win the next election. These calls should be resisted. The only solution to a shortage of housing is to build more houses.
Another SNP failure.
Martin Howe on Europe’s growing scepticism of the ECHR
The illusion of decline by Robert Tombs
There has long been a belief that Britain is a country in decline: once a ‘superpower’, now simply one of the rank and file. This view is based on fundamental misinterpretation of history.
When the former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, recently compared the British economy with that of Argentina, he was typical of those Remainers who cannot imagine that a country that has rejected their instructions could possibly succeed, and who often seem to will it to fail. That Carney’s sneer did not merely provoke laughter is because far from being a random remark, it stems from generations of negativity about Britain. This hangs albatross-like round our collective neck.
The AI safety summit hosted at Bletchley Park this week may go down as Rishi Sunak’s most significant contribution as Prime Minister. It also showed how Britain, now freed from the institutional inertia of the EU, can play a leading role in global politics.
Talk of existential risk and killer robots can seem fanciful, but there are more proximate risks from AI which the world will face even if only the more conservative predictions about AI progress turn out to be true. These include weapons-automation, social manipulation, job losses, surveillance, and financial crisis. All of these are made more likely if there is an ‘arms race’ among global powers in which speed is prioritised over safety, each trying to get a technological edge over its rivals.
In such a situation, while it is collectively rational for all countries to impose broadly similar safety measures on AI research – so that everyone reap the benefits of AI while minimising risks – it is individually rational for each country to make progress as fast as possible – if this dangerous technology is going to exist anyway, it is better to be the first to get it. In situations like this, cooperation amongst the actors is the most effective way to realise the best outcome. This is why AI safety is a global problem which requires efforts like this summit.
So the summit itself and the joint statement are a major achievement for the Prime Minister and one that may only grow in significance. It shows that, far from becoming a diminishing figure on the international stage, post-Brexit Britain can play a central role in the most important global issues of our time.
Brexit has in fact enhanced Britain’s ability to play a leading role in issues like AI safety. Freed from the institutional inertia of the EU and the need to balance the interests of 28 other national governments, Britain can act more swiftly in designing and implementing policies, policies which can diverge from the rest of Europe. This makes it more likely that effective AI safety strategies are discovered in Britain and more likely that they will be discovered at all. ‘Global Britain’ is not just good for Britain, it is good for the world.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate