Rishi Sunak’s technology legacy isn’t going according to plan

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants artificial intelligence in the UK to be his legacy, we know that and have known it for a while.

Last month, just 8 weeks before his AI safety summit at the home of UK computer coding, Bletchley Park, Sunak relayed his fears that the world may be running short on time to prevent potential ‘bioterrorists’ use AI for great ills.

Fitting then that a great summit with representatives from many of the world’s most powerful nations and technology companies should follow.

It is expected he will convey his fears about the “short window” in which to act against these evils to those present at the home of the Enigma Machine and the UK’s foremost computer scientist and mathmetician, Sir Alan Turing, on November 1st.

The whole event has become a bit of a talking point for Sunak and not necessarily in a good way. What has proved to be much better fodder for the newspapers and online news junket has been the evolving drama around the international guestlist.

US President Joe Biden is in all likelihood not attending, a decent slap across the face of the UK government given Sunak first brainstormed the idea of the summit on an official visit to the US earlier this year. A representative from Biden’s government will likely be in attendance, but that’s not quite the same as the leader of the free world now is it?

Next, China.

One of the archetypal homes of the global technology boom was, for several months, expected to snub Sunak’s invite.

Sino-UK relations have been tense in recent years, culminating in a tricky diplomatic mission to China by foreign secretary James Cleverly last month – the tricky part being that members of the government claimed the UK’s China strategy was being deliberately hidden from them and there could be Chinese spies in Westminster.

But the Financial Times reports that China is in fact planning on attending the summit, though one Chinese official said Beijing might “change its mind at any time” in an attempt to spite the US whilst it squeezes China’s computer chip capabilities.

German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz? Likely a non-attendee; conspiracy theorists say it could be a post-Brexit shun from the largest economy in the EU and more well-placed sources among the UK media have added that Scholz’s absence could impact French President, Emmanuel Macron’s attendance.

Watch closely to see how the AI summit unfolds and what could come next for the sector as Sunak seeks to establish his legacy through AI.

Where else is Sunak piling his efforts?

Remember back in March the completely bungled attempt at relevance when the PM’s office posted an augmented reality QR code to his Twitter along with the caption, ‘innovation means growth’ only to be told by all and sundry that the code required two apps to scan and therefore read his message?

Well eventually, once you actually got to his clip art-style message, it read, “£250 million investment in AI, Quantum and Engineering Biology makes us a science superpower by 2030 and creates jobs, economic growth for people of the UK”.

And, though there is rising investment into virtual and augmented reality under Rishi Sunak, there is precious little evidence anywhere to indicate specific policy lines or plans.

On the one hand, it is well-known that he has long-standing relationships with US tech firms and has, whenever given the opportunity, touted Britain’s potential as a ‘world leader’ and technological superpower.

One thing there has been flurries of activity around from Number 10 is cryptocurrency, though noticeably more during the period before it crashed unceremoniously last year.

During his tenure as Chancellor in Boris Johnson’s government, Sunak launched a taskforce dedicated to the proposition of establishing whether a central bank digital currency was a good idea and to all intents and purposes, pushing for a firm yes in this regard.

He went on to announce a roadmap for widespread adoption of blockchain technologies, including plans for regulating privately issued stablecoins and a crypto-friendly adjustment plan for the tax system.

Indeed a Royal Mint NFT, a textbook vanity project, was slated in March 2022, just two months before the government embarked on a consultation on how to manage the catastrophic failure of cryptocurrencies. The NFT plan was scrapped earlier this year.

The problem with Sunak’s position in crypto seems to be that it’s all a bit wishy washy, there’s not a firm position or, again, policy outline to indicate where the party might want to take blockchain technology. And he is quite rightly dealing with high levels of sceptisicm on the subject from within his own party.

A Treasury Committee report released May 17 found that cryptocurrencies pose “significant risks” to consumers.

The committee concluded that the price volatility and risk of loss means cryptocurrencies should be regulated as gambling, meaning betting with crypto would be treated the same as using banking options like Paysafecard; this likely added even more fuel to the fire of a UK public already sceptical of cryptocurrencies and amidst a seemingly ever-worsening cost of living crisis (a YouGov poll from last year found that 60% of brits felt that cryptocurrencies were not to be trusted).

This could potentially change should a Labour government come into power in the coming years but more clarification will come following a mandate for the upcoming general election.

As we close out 2023, it is becoming increasingly clear that Rishi Sunak’s premiership is going to have to take some almight leaps and bounds to win and retain sufficient voter confidence to win him an election.

It was understood as he entered 10 Downing St last year that he would represent a more modernised, younger wing of the Conservative party, primed for technological growth and futuristic ambitions.

His *very* right-wing personal politics aside, this dream hasn’t really come close to being realised and there is nothing to say that his vision for the UK’s position as a world leader in technologies like artificial intelligence, AR, VR and crypto will have a tangible legacy.

One of his last moonshot hopes is that his AI summit next month will garner sufficient national and international praise, acclaim and positive coverage from industry luminaries to position his, however precariously, as a viable leader for the next stage in the UK’s technological developments.



  • As per the Public Gambling Act of 1867, all Indian states, except Goa, Daman and Sikkim, prohibit gambling
  • Land-based casinos are legalized, with certain guidelines, in Goa and Daman, as per the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976  
  • Land-based casinos, Online gambling and E-gaming (games of chance) are legalized in Sikkim under the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules 2009
  • Only some Indian states have legalized online/regular lotteries as per and subject to the conditions laid down by state laws. Kindly refer to the same here
  • Horse racing and betting on horse racing, including online betting, is permitted only in a licensed premise in select states. Kindly refer to the 1996 Judgement by the Supreme Court Of India here and for more information
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