UK AI Safety Summit 2023: Scaling up the Future

Photo Credit: Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS

The world’s first AI summit concluded today with sentiments ranging from exaltation to dismay. The high-profile event took place in Bletchley Park, once the allied headquarters of codebreaking during WWII. A standing garrison of technological prowess that once housed the likes of cryptologists such as Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, and Bill Tutte.

This consolidation of delegates from 28 governments took place over two days and also included heads of top artificial intelligence companies and Universities. Attendees present included representatives from U.S. and Chinese governments, Elon Musk, and OpenAI’s Sam Altman.

The meeting was hosted by Rishi Sunak and acted as a perfect archway to new safety standards and R&D opportunities for artificial intelligence. Since the release of ChatGPT one year ago, the world has changed completely. With the dawning of a new era on the horizon, regulatory compliance and safety standards are now being set into motion.

With new AI computing specifications, cluster network architectures, neural network technologies, safety standards will be a mandatory assurance against any potential risks involved in the future. The discussions that took place also focused on the potential risk that today’s AI tools already present manifold dangers — especially to marginalized communities — but also that the next generation of systems could be 10 or 100 times more powerful, not to mention more dangerous.

Some see it at a poetically Darwinian moment in human history, while others fear it to be an economic liability. In the middle there are the few that see the advent of AI technology as a catalyst for human growth. Sunak announced today that AI companies had agreed at the Summit to give governments early access to their models to perform safety evaluations. He also announced that Yoshua Bengio, a Turing Award-winning computer scientist, had agreed to chair a body that would seek to establish, in a report, the scientific consensus on risks and capabilities of frontier AI systems.

“I am pleased to support the much-needed international coordination of managing AI safety, by working with colleagues from around the world to present the very latest evidence on this vitally important issue,” Bengio said in a statement.

Sunak also announced that the U.K.’s Frontier AI Taskforce would evolve into a permanent body tasked with carrying out safety evaluations: the U.K. AI Safety Institute.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) is now calling for participants in a new consortium called the Artificial Intelligence Safety Institute (AISI) in order to develop innovative methods for evaluating AI systems to improve safety standards and trustworthiness for the rapidly growing technology.

“The U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium will enable close collaboration among government agencies, companies and impacted communities to help ensure that AI systems are safe and trustworthy,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. “Together we can develop ways to test and evaluate AI systems so that we can benefit from AI’s potential while also protecting safety and privacy.”

The key outcome of the first day of the AI Safety Summit yesterday was the Bletchley Declaration, which saw 28 countries and the European Union agree to meet more in the future to discuss the risks of AI. The UK government was keen to tout the agreement as a massive success, while impartial observers were less vocal about the scale of its achievement. However, in dashing American form, the U.S. presented its own declaration. Yesterday, at the event, U.S. vice president, Kamala Harris unveiled a regulatory agreement on AI, the Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy, which includes a political declaration signed by over 30 other countries – notably more than those who signed up to the Bletchley Declaration trumpeted by the UK.