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Global AI Safety Summit: Nations Unite In The UK To Address Frontier Risks

The UK, US, China and over 23 other nations agree that the Bletchley Declaration is an important step towards a safer and more ethical artificial intelligence future

Ian Hogarth, chair of the UK Government's AI Foundation Model Taskforce

The UK’s prime minister Rishi Sunak hosted a group of 100 representatives including experts, business leaders and politicians from around the globe to discuss the potential as well as the pitfalls of artificial intelligence. The AI Safety Summit was held at Bletchley Park, UK on November 1st to discuss how to develop and deploy ‘Frontier AI models’ safely across the world. 

The summit had a strong start with an announcement that 28 countries have jointly issued a declaration emphasising the need for a global effort to mitigate the risks posed by AI. Known as the Bletchley Declaration, countries will work together on AI safety research, despite what is seemingly a growing competition between the US and UK to establish a leadership role in spearheading the regulations towards AI development. 

Several countries from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the EU, were among the declarations to form a joint effort to ensure AI is developed and deployed safely and responsibly. Countries endorsing the declaration include Brazil, Nigeria, France, the United States, China, India,  Ireland, Japan, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“The UK is once again leading the world at the forefront of this new technological frontier by kickstarting this conversation, which will see us work together to make AI safe and realise all its benefits for generations to come,” said Sunak who went on to call the Summit, “Quite incredible”. 

Michelle Donelan, the UK technology secretary, told reporters, “For the first time we now have countries agreeing that we need to look not just independently but collectively at the risks around frontier AI.”

Regulating frontier AI

Frontier AI is said to be the most advanced AI system, which some specialists suggest could surpass human intelligence in various (if not all) tasks. During the AI Summit in the UK, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had plenty of cameras pointing in his direction, as his reputation and presence contributed to the Summit’s success. 

In a conversation with the PA news agency during the Summit, Musk issued a cautionary note on Frontier AI saying, “For the first time, we have a situation where there’s something that is going to be far smarter than the smartest human… it’s not clear to me we can actually control such a thing.”

China signed the declaration as well stating, “We welcome the international community’s efforts so far to cooperate on AI to promote inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and innovation, to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to foster public trust and confidence in AI systems to fully realise their potential.”

Nigeria’s technology minister Bosun Tijani said during the Summit, “AI at its very core, offers our generation a historical opportunity to create ubiquitous access to insights and intelligence for global development. However, we must remain conscious of the need to ensure the safe, ethical and inclusive development of this phenomenon.” 

More AI Summits will be held

One of the sections in the declaration outlines arrangements for South Korea to organise a mini-summit within the next six months, while France is also set to host an in-person summit next year. Sunak commented on this development, describing it as a significant milestone in which the world’s leading AI powers concur on the imperative need to comprehend the risks associated with AI. He emphasised that this agreement is crucial for securing the future of generations to come.

His majesty King Charles of the UK also spoke during the AI summit saying, “AI holds the potential to completely transform life as we know it to help us better treat, and perhaps even cure, conditions like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s; to hasten our journey towards net zero and realise a new era of potentially limitless clean, green energy – even just to help us make our everyday lives a bit easier.”

But he added, “However, if we are to realise the untold benefits of AI, then we must work together on combatting its significant risks too. It is incumbent on those with responsibility to meet these challenges: to protect people’s privacy and livelihoods, which are essential to both our economic and psychological well-being, to secure our democracies from harm and to ensure the benefits of new technology are shared by all.”

A limited consensus

Currently, it appears there’s no solid agreement on a universal set of AI regulations and the nation or body that would be responsible for formulating them. 

While the UK aims to take the lead in developing these guidelines with the help of 28 other nations, the US is seemingly on a path to create its own AI guidelines which the US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo called the,  ‘American AI Safety Institute’ during the Summit. Adding that it’s, “A neutral third party to develop best-in-class standards” as well as develop its own rules for safety, testing and security. 

“We will compete as nations. Competition is a good thing. It brings out the best of us, and allows us to innovate,” Raimondo said during the first plenary session of the AI Summit which was livestreamed online. 

However, CEO of Entrepreneur First (EF) and Britain tech advisor Matt Clifford has denied suggestions of division between the US and the UK regarding which nation should assume a primary role in establishing global AI regulation.

“You’ll have heard Secretary Raimondo really praise us in a full-throated way and talk about the partnership that she wants to have between the UK and the US safety institute,” he said. “I really think that that shows the depth of the partnership.”

The EU on the other hand, is currently processing an AI bill that’s designed to establish a framework of principles for regulation and implement specific rules for technologies such as live facial recognition. 

Ultimately, the AI Summit marks a diplomatic achievement for the UK, especially for Sunak who is set to hold a livestream conversation with Musk on X today, November 2nd. 

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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