20VC UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak on Investing More in AI Safety Research Than Any Other Country in the World, How AI Changes the Future of Education, His Top 5 Priorities as Prime Minister Today & How to Make the UK the Centre of AI

Summary Notes


In an insightful conversation with Harry Stebbings on 20 VC, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak discusses his commitment to restoring trust in politics and his vision for the UK as a leader in technology and AI safety research. Sunak reflects on his upbringing by healthcare professional parents, emphasizing the importance of the NHS, small businesses, and education—a theme he carries into his governance. He announces the creation of a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and an AI task force backed by a £100 million fund, underscoring the UK's position at the forefront of AI investment. Sunak also highlights initiatives to attract global talent, including competitive visa regimes and educational reforms to maintain the UK's edge in the AI revolution. Balancing innovation with appropriate regulation, Sunak is confident the UK can lead the next technological era while ensuring AI benefits are harnessed responsibly.

Summary Notes

Restoration of Trust in Politics

  • Rishi Sunak emphasizes the need to restore trust in politics and change how politics is conducted.
  • He expresses a desire for the public to have faith in their politicians, prime minister, government, and the impact these entities can have on their lives.
  • The creation of an AI task force with a significant investment is mentioned as a step towards enhancing safety research in AI.

"It's important that I restore people's trust in politics. I want to change how politics is done so people believe in their politicians, believe in their prime minister, believe in their government and believe that they're doing the right thing, but also genuinely able to make a difference to their lives."

The quote expresses Rishi Sunak's commitment to rebuilding public trust in political institutions and ensuring that the government is seen as effective and beneficial to the people's lives.

Investment in AI Safety Research

  • The UK government's AI task force is allocated £100 million, positioning it as a leading investor in AI safety research globally.

"Our new task force, AI task force has a hundred million pounds, which means that we're investing more in safety research for AI than any government anywhere in the world."

This quote highlights the UK government's significant financial commitment to AI safety research, emphasizing the country's leadership in this area of technology.

Harry Stebbings' Experience with Rishi Sunak

  • Harry Stebbings shares his excitement about interviewing Rishi Sunak in person, reflecting on the honor of the occasion as part of London Tech Week.
  • He acknowledges the efforts of Rishi Sunak and his team in facilitating the interview.

"This is 20 VC with me, Harry Stebings, and going to Downing street and sitting down with our prime minister, Rishi Sunak, for this discussion. Honestly, it was one of the greatest honors that I've had since starting 20 vc over eight years and 3000 episodes ago."

Harry Stebbings expresses his gratitude and the significance of interviewing the Prime Minister, marking a milestone in his career and the platform 20 VC.

Rishi Sunak's Childhood and Family Influence

  • Rishi Sunak discusses the influence of his parents' careers in healthcare on his upbringing.
  • His mother's role as a pharmacist and small business owner, as well as his father's work as a GP, instilled in him the importance of healthcare and small business management.
  • Sunak credits his parents' emphasis on education for his and his siblings' opportunities, reinforcing his belief in education as a key to improving lives.

"You know, my parents are both in healthcare, which is quite important for how I was brought up. So my mum was a pharmacist, she ran a local pharmacy. My dad was a GP and I grew up working for my mum."

This quote reflects the significant impact Rishi Sunak's parents had on his values, especially regarding healthcare, small business, and education.

Sunak's Personal Anecdotes

  • Rishi Sunak shares a personal story about not being able to recall if he contacted his mother on the day he became PM due to the busyness of the day.
  • He recounts a heartwarming anecdote about his mother wanting to give him homemade Indian sweets and eventually doing so at a football match.
  • Sunak also mentions sharing his mother's sweets with President Zelensky, which delighted her.

"I saw President Zelensky on the Monday after that and he and I were chatting and he was hungry. So actually, I gave him some of my mum's burfe, which she was very happy to."

The quote provides a glimpse into Rishi Sunak's familial relationships and personal life, illustrating a human side to his political persona.

Collaboration Between Private and Public Sectors

  • Rishi Sunak addresses the gap between private sector knowledge and public sector regulation.
  • He stresses the importance of government leadership in fostering confidence within the tech industry.
  • Sunak wants the government to adopt innovative approaches and maintain constant engagement with the innovative sectors to drive growth and create jobs.

"I think it's really important that government is engaging constantly with the innovative part of our country, because that's how we're going to drive growth and create jobs for people."

This quote underscores Sunak's belief in the need for ongoing dialogue between the government and the private sector to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

Measuring Success in Collaboration

  • Rishi Sunak discusses the creation of a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to signal the government's commitment to innovation.
  • He suggests traditional metrics for measuring success, including venture capital raised, the number of unicorns created, and the emergence of next-generation technologies in the UK.

"How do we measure success? Look, the traditional things. How much venture capital are we raising here? How many unicorns are we creating here? I think we all know the stats. More than France and Germany combined. More unicorns than anywhere apart from the US and China."

The quote lists concrete indicators of success in the tech industry, such as venture capital and the creation of unicorns, to evaluate the effectiveness of collaboration between the private and public sectors.## VC Investment in the UK

  • Andreessen Horowitz, one of the world's most successful VC investors, opens its first international office in the UK.
  • Palantir announces the establishment of an AI headquarters for research in the UK.
  • Large labs like Anthropic and OpenAI join DeepMind in opening international offices in the UK.
  • These investments are indicators of the UK's favorable environment for technology and innovation.

Andreessen, Horowitz, all the world's most successful vc investors opening their first international office here in the UK.

This quote highlights the significance of Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm, choosing the UK for its first international office, which suggests confidence in the UK's tech sector.

And that just comes on the back of Palantir saying that they're going to do the AI headquarters for research here in the UK.

The quote points out Palantir's decision to establish its AI research headquarters in the UK, further emphasizing the country's appeal to tech companies.

And we've had all the large labs, anthropic OpenAI joining DeepMind and opening international offices here in the UK.

This quote mentions the trend of major AI labs setting up offices in the UK, indicating a growing tech ecosystem in the country.

Success Breeds Success

  • The arrival of prominent companies in the UK tech ecosystem is likened to dominoes falling, creating momentum and signaling further growth.
  • The notion that "success breeds success" suggests a positive feedback loop where initial successes attract more investment and talent.
  • The speed of the tech ecosystem requires a responsive government to maintain progress.

How much do you think success compounds?

Harry Stebbings asks about the multiplicative effect of success in the context of venture capital and tech ecosystems, implying that initial successes can lead to more significant achievements.

I think success breeds success as well.

Rishi Sunak agrees with the idea that success leads to more success, highlighting the importance of maintaining a positive trajectory in the tech sector.

The UK's Historical Innovation Leadership

  • The UK has a history of leading the industrial revolution with inventions like the steam engine, electricity, textile mechanization, modern roads, and steel production.
  • Rishi Sunak believes the UK is on the cusp of another significant period of innovation leadership.
  • The country's historical contributions to technology and innovation are seen as a foundation for future success.

This is a country that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution.

Rishi Sunak reflects on the UK's historical role in the industrial revolution, suggesting a strong foundation for future innovation.

Regulatory Balance for Innovation

  • The UK has historically found a balance between supporting innovation and establishing guardrails for protection.
  • There is an aim to shape the global conversation on AI regulation, balancing benefits and risks.
  • The UK plans to convene academia, companies, and policymakers to discuss AI safety and regulation.

The UK has historically got this right.

Rishi Sunak expresses confidence in the UK's ability to balance innovation and regulation, based on historical precedent.

When it comes to AI, I'm confident that we can help shape the global conversation on the guardrails that we need to put in place.

This quote outlines the UK's ambition to be a leader in setting global standards for AI regulation, emphasizing the importance of a balanced approach to innovation.

AI Task Force and Safety Research

  • The UK government creates a new AI task force with a £100 million fund, leading in safety research investment.
  • The task force will operate at arm's length from the government, allowing for agility and pace.
  • The focus will be on safety research, developing the capability for safety evaluations and auditing of AI models.
  • Collaboration with AI companies for early access to models is planned to enhance safety research.

Our new task force, AI task force, which we should talk about, is 100 million pounds, which means that we're investing more in safety research for AI than any government anywhere in the world.

Rishi Sunak announces the creation of an AI task force with significant funding, positioning the UK as a global leader in AI safety research.

I want to find the right person to chair that task force, which we haven't announced yet, because that process is still going.

This quote indicates that the leadership of the AI task force is a critical decision still in progress, emphasizing the importance of the role in shaping the future of AI safety research in the UK.## AI Research and Talent in the UK

  • The UK has a high-quality AI research base.
  • There is a focus on maintaining leadership in AI through educational infrastructure.
  • The "perennial war for talent" is a significant issue for companies, countries, and businesses.
  • Access to talent is a primary concern for CEOs.

"You look at the quality of our AI research base, it's fantastic." "I think that's probably the most important thing because we're in a perennial war for talent. Companies are, countries are, businesses are." "Biggest thing any CEO I speak to is one of them will talk to me about it's just getting access to talent."

The quotes emphasize the high quality of AI research in the UK and the ongoing competition for skilled individuals in the field. The need for talent is a common and pressing concern among CEOs.

Educational Initiatives for AI Competency

  • Funding for AI masters conversion courses was increased to allow non-STEM graduates to develop AI skills.
  • Universities were encouraged to develop these courses through increased funding.
  • Scholarships were expanded to provide access to AI education for disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The initiatives aim to domestically cultivate AI competencies within the UK.

"What I did was increase our funding for AI masters conversion courses. So this is for people who are coming from non STEM backgrounds to develop master's level capability in AI competencies like data science, and to make sure that universities developed those courses." "So I massively increased the funding for those and they're working out really well. And we also funded more scholarships because I wanted to make sure people from disadvantaged backgrounds had access to these same educational opportunities in AI."

These quotes detail the actions taken to improve AI education, including increased funding for conversion courses and scholarships, to build a domestic talent pool with AI expertise.

International Talent Acquisition

  • The UK aims to be competitive in attracting international talent.
  • Innovator founder Visa, scale-up visa, and high potential individual visa programs were created.
  • A special AI program targets top global AI talents for relocation to the UK.
  • These initiatives are designed to make the UK an attractive destination for highly skilled individuals.

"And here I'm making sure that we have what I believe is the world's most competitive visa regime for highly skilled talent." "So we've got a new innovator founder Visa for people who want to come here and set up businesses. We've got a new scale up visa for companies that are scaling up so they can bring the talent that they want very easily."

The quotes outline the UK's strategy to attract international talent through competitive visa programs, catering to entrepreneurs, scaling companies, and high-potential individuals without immediate job offers.

Importance of Mathematics Education

  • Mathematics is seen as an essential subject for a wide range of jobs and societal participation.
  • The UK is unique in allowing children to stop studying maths at 16.
  • The initiative to extend maths education to 18 years old aims to improve job prospects and financial literacy.
  • Different forms of maths education can cater to diverse student needs.

"One of my initiatives is to have maths be studied up to 18." "We are a global outlier in allowing our children to stop studying maths at 16. Almost all developed countries have study of maths go all the way to 18 years old."

The quotes highlight the importance of mathematics in the curriculum and the push to extend maths education to the age of 18, aligning with practices in other developed countries.

AI's Potential in Education

  • AI can significantly impact education by supporting teachers and providing personalized learning.
  • AI could alleviate teachers' burdens and enhance their effectiveness.
  • Personalized tutoring, difficult to achieve at scale with human tutors, could be made possible with AI.

"For me, the thing that I'm probably most excited about is education." "If you can have every child have essentially a personalized tutor, imagine how incredible that would be for their development and growth and their future opportunities."

These quotes express excitement about AI's potential to revolutionize education by reducing teachers' workloads and offering personalized learning experiences, akin to individual tutoring for every student.

Personal Interests and Family Life

  • Spending quality time with family is a priority.
  • Cooking breakfast, particularly scrambled eggs, is a shared family activity.
  • Personal interests are important for work-life balance.

"Day with my kids who I don't see enough? I'd probably do breakfast with them. I'm not massively into cooking, but breakfast is one of the things I can do. Cook breakfast." "My scrambled eggs are important to me."

The quotes convey the importance of family time and personal interests, such as cooking breakfast for the family, which is a cherished activity.## Personal Routine and Interests

  • Rishi Sunak describes a hypothetical ideal day involving cooking scrambled eggs without milk, based on a popular video by a chef he researched.
  • He mentions walking his dog, Nova, with his kids and taking his wife out for dinner at a tapas restaurant.
  • Sunak expresses his preference for a last meal: a club sandwich, fries, and Mexican cake.
  • For a concert experience, he would choose to relive the 2005 Live 8 concert in London, which he attended with his wife before they were married.

"I came across he has this video which has been watched a gazillion times about how to cook scrambled eggs, which is slightly counterintuitive to how most of us do it because it doesn't have milk."

The quote explains Sunak's interest in a unique scrambled eggs recipe that omits milk, which he found while researching a chef.

"I do that dog. We have Nova, our labrador. So dog walk time with the kids. And I've got time to take my wife out for dinner at our know tap ash restaurant in the evening."

Sunak shares his enjoyment of walking the family dog and spending quality time with his family, highlighting his personal life outside of politics.

"Easy club sandwich, fries and mexican cake."

This is Sunak's straightforward answer to his preferred last meal, showcasing his personal food preferences.

"It was in 2005. I was in London. It was a live eight concert in the park. And I never win anything, but you had to text message and then it was all done by lottery and I actually got. I got tickets."

Sunak recounts a cherished memory of attending the Live 8 concert with his wife, emphasizing the significance of the event in their relationship.

Professional Highlights and Challenges as Prime Minister

  • Sunak shares the best experiences he has had as Prime Minister, which include playing cricket with the England T20 side and being in a position to influence the UK's economic and technological development.
  • The worst part of being Prime Minister for him is the time the job takes away from his family, especially his young children.
  • He reflects on the importance of restoring trust in politics and changing how politics is conducted.
  • Sunak is focused on delivering on five priorities: halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting waiting lists, and stopping illegal migration.

"I feel that certainly economically, technologically, we're at an incredibly important time in our country's development."

Sunak identifies the current period as crucial for the UK's economic and technological progress, emphasizing the weight of his responsibilities as Prime Minister.

"Not being able to spend enough time with your kids is something that you are always sad about."

The quote highlights the personal sacrifices Sunak faces in his role as Prime Minister, particularly the reduced time with his family.

"I want to change how politics is done so people believe in their politicians, believe in their prime minister, believe in their government, and believe that they're doing the right thing."

Sunak expresses his desire to transform the political landscape to rebuild public trust in government officials.

"I have a lot to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting list and stop the both."

This quote outlines Sunak's five main priorities as Prime Minister and his commitment to achieving these goals.

Fitness and Exercise Routine

  • Sunak discusses his exercise routine, which includes using Peloton and attempting to return to running on the treadmill.
  • He admits to not being a fan of running outside due to the lack of motivation compared to using a treadmill.

"It's still Cody. If I can manage one of those a week, I'm happy."

Sunak maintains his Peloton workout routine and is satisfied with completing at least one session per week.

"I'm not a big runner outside, actually. The treadmill. Yeah. Because I don't really like running."

The quote reveals Sunak's preference for treadmill running over outdoor running, due to the structured nature of the treadmill workout.

Vision for Legacy

  • Sunak wants to be remembered for restoring trust in politics and making a tangible difference in people's lives.
  • He emphasizes the importance of working hard and achieving set objectives in a proper manner.

"I want them ultimately to feel. He said he was going to do these things and he worked hard at it, did it in the right way and made a difference to, you know, it's obviously a work in progress and we've got a long way to go, but that's what I'm hard at doing."

Sunak expresses his commitment to fulfilling his promises and the desire for his legacy to reflect his hard work and positive impact on the country.

Future of Tech in London and the UK

  • Harry Stebbings shows enthusiasm for the future of technology in London and the UK.
  • He thanks Rishi Sunak and his team for the opportunity to have the conversation.

"Now, I have to say, I really could not be more excited for the future of tech in London and the UK."

Stebbings closes the conversation by expressing his optimism for the technological advancements and potential in London and the UK.

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