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UK-US Atlantic Declaration bolsters tech and data collaboration

Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak agree greater collaboration on responsible artificial intelligence, quantum computing and Open RAN

US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak have signed an Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century US-UK Economic Partnership, setting out a series of partnerships, which include technology, data privacy and telecommunications.

The technologies covered in the agreement include semiconductors, quantum technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), telecommunications and synthetic biology. The agreement for technology collaboration falls within existing US-UK frameworks, including the US-UK Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation and the US-UK Comprehensive Dialogue on Technology and Data.

The declaration aims to develop and deliver a shared work plan on “critical and emerging technologies”, which is expected to be updated and taken forward within the next 12 months.

Technology collaboration covers quantum technologies initiatives to address fundamental research questions in quantum science and joint R&D projects. The UK government also aims to deepen its cooperation with the US on technical activity in innovative 5G and 6G, including cooperation to accelerate the growth of the Open RAN market. The declaration also aims to improve collaborative R&D in areas that support advanced semiconductor technologies and cooperation on advancing safe and responsible AI.

To support growth in these technologies across the US and UK, the government said it would be setting up a US-UK Strategic Technologies Investor Council within the next 12 months. The declaration states: “We intend to work together to crowd in private capital to ensure companies in these areas have the ability to emerge and scale. We will use this newly formed council to bring leading investors from both sides of the Atlantic together with national security experts to analyse where funding gaps currently exist and unlock new private investment in critical and emerging technologies.”

Biden has also agreed to support Sunak's proposal for the UK government to host what it described as "the first major global summit on AI safety" in the autumn. Sunak is keen to position the UK as taking a leading rule in responding to growing concerns over the potential risks from the rapid advancements being made in AI.

As part of a move to improve talent flow between the two countries, the government said the UK would expand Marshall and Fulbright scholarships focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

The declaration also aims to establish a US-UK data bridge to facilitate data flows between the countries while maintaining privacy protections. “We are working to finalise our respective assessments swiftly to implement this framework. We also intend to coordinate to further promote trust in the digital economy, including through support for the Global Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) Forum and the OECD’s Declaration on Government Access to Personal Data Held by Private Sector Entities, and to build shared understandings on data security risks,” the government said.

Other areas of data sharing and privacy include a new collaboration on privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), which the government said would enable more responsible AI models to be trained that could offer economic and societal benefits, while protecting individuals’ privacy and democratic principles.

The declaration includes cooperation on technology protection, economic security toolkits and supply chain resilience to secure the global supply of semiconductors and raw materials. From a market regulatory perspective, the government said: “We recognise that our current regulatory frameworks related to export controls, investment screening, sanctions, and research and development security are essential tools that should correspond to a changing geostrategic and technological environment.”

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