The United States and Britain have announced a new partnership focused on the science of artificial intelligence safety, amid growing concerns about the potential risks posed by upcoming next-generation AI models. The agreement, signed by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and British Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan in Washington DC on Monday, aims to jointly develop advanced AI model testing and promote international cooperation in addressing the challenges associated with this transformative technology.

The memorandum of understanding builds upon commitments announced at an AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park in November and marks the first agreement of its kind anywhere in the world. "We all know AI is the defining technology of our generation," Raimondo said. "This partnership will accelerate both of our institutes' work across the full spectrum to address the risks of our national security concerns and the concerns of our broader society."

Under the formal partnership, Britain and the United States plan to perform at least one joint testing exercise on a publicly accessible model and are considering exploring personnel exchanges between their respective AI safety institutes. Both countries are also working to develop similar partnerships with other nations to promote AI safety on a global scale.

The collaboration comes at a critical time, as generative AI - which can create text, photos, and videos in response to open-ended prompts - has spurred both excitement and fears since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022. While the technology has the potential to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges, concerns have been raised about its potential to make certain jobs obsolete, upend elections, and potentially overpower humans.

In a joint interview with Reuters, Raimondo and Donelan emphasized the urgent need for joint action to address AI risks. "Time is of the essence because the next set of models are about to be released, which will be much, much more capable," Donelan said. "We have a focus on the areas that we are dividing and conquering and really specializing."

Raimondo added that she would raise AI issues at a meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council in Belgium on Thursday and that the Biden administration plans to soon announce additions to its AI team. "We are pulling in the full resources of the U.S. government," she said.

As part of the partnership, both countries plan to share key information on capabilities and risks associated with AI models and systems, as well as technical research on AI safety and security. In October, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at reducing the risks of AI, while in January, the Commerce Department proposed requiring U.S. cloud companies to determine whether foreign entities are accessing U.S. data centers to train AI models.

Britain has also taken steps to address AI safety, announcing in February that it would spend more than £100 million ($125.5 million) to launch nine new research hubs and train AI regulators about the technology.

Raimondo expressed particular concern about the threat of AI being applied to bioterrorism or nuclear war simulations. "Those are the things where the consequences could be catastrophic and so we really have to have zero tolerance for some of these models being used for that capability," she said.

As the US and UK lead the way in addressing AI safety challenges, the historic partnership underscores the urgent need for international cooperation in harnessing the potential of this transformative technology while mitigating its risks. With the rapid advancement of AI, the world will be watching closely as these two nations work together to shape the future of artificial intelligence and ensure its responsible development and deployment.