UK hosts nations and AI experts at first global AI Safety Summit

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Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan signs a MOU with Australia’s Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic during the UK AI Summit at Bletchley Park. Picture by Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street

Leading AI nations, businesses, civil society and AI experts have convened at Bletchley Park this week for the first ever AI Safety Summit where they’ve been discussing the global future of AI and work towards a shared understanding of its risks.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan opened the event yesterday (Wednesday) by welcoming an expert cast list before setting out the UK government’s vision for safety and security to be at the heart of advances in AI, in order to enable the enormous opportunities it will bring.

The government say talks will pave the way for a safer world by identifying risks, opportunities and the need for international collaboration, before highlighting consensus on the scale, importance and urgency for AI opportunities and the necessity for mitigating frontier AI risks to unlock them.

The historic venue is playing host to the landmark 2-day summit, which is seeing a small, but focused group comprising of AI companies, civil society and independent experts gather around the table to kickstart urgent talks on the risks and opportunities posed by rapid advances in frontier AI – especially ahead of new models launching next year, whose capabilities may not be fully understood.

The US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and China are among nations confirmed as attendees at the AI Safety Summit. Representatives from The Alan Turing Institute, The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Ada Lovelace Institute are also among the groups confirmed to attend, highlighting the depth of expertise of the delegates who are expected to take part in crucial talks.

Delegates attend Day one of the UK AI Summit at Bletchley Park. Picture by Marcel Grabowski / UK Government/Identity – CC BY 2.0 DEED

As set out by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week, the summit is focusing on understanding the risks such as potential threats to national security right through to the dangers a loss of control of the technology could bring. Discussions around issues likely to impact society, such as election disruption and erosion of social trust are also set to take place.

The UK already employs over 50,000 people in the AI sector and contributes ​​£3.7 billion to our economy annually. Additionally, the UK is home to twice as many AI companies as any other European country, and hundreds more AIcompanies start up in the UK every year, growing our economy and creating more jobs. 

As such, day one of the summit will also host several roundtable discussions dedicated to improving frontier AI safety with key UK based developers such as Open-AI, Anthropic and UK based Deepmind. Delegates will consider how risk thresholds, effective safety assessments, and robust governance and accountability mechanisms can be defined to enable the safe scaling of frontier AI by developers.

Secretary of State for Technology, Michelle Donelan MP said:

AI is already an extraordinary force for good in our society, with limitless opportunity to grow the global economy, deliver better public services and tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.

But the risks posed by frontier AI are serious and substantive and it is critical that we work together, both across sectors and countries to recognise these risks.

This summit provides an opportunity for us to ensure we have the right people with the right expertise gathered around the table to discuss how we can mitigate these risks moving forward. Only then will we be able to truly reap the benefits of this transformative technology in a responsible manner.

Discussions are expected to centre around the risks emerging from rapid advances in AI, before exploring the transformative opportunities the technology has to offer – including in education and areas for international research collaborations.  

The Secretary of State will be joined by members of the UK’s Frontier AITaskforce – including its Chair, Ian Hogarth – which was launched earlier this year to evaluate the risks of frontier AI models, and by representatives from nations at the cutting-edge of AI development.

They will also look at what national policymakers, the international community, and scientists and researchers can do to manage the risks and harness the opportunities of AI to deliver economic and social benefits around the world.

Day one concluded with a panel discussion on the transformative opportunities of AI for public good now and in the long-term, with a focus on how it can be used by teachers and students to revolutionise education.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan will also take to the podium to deliver closing remarks to delegates, before the curtain falls on what is hoped will be an historic first ever global AI Safety Summit.

Photos: CC BY 2.0 DEED

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