Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

UK AI Summit: Aspirations, Benefits and a Lack of 'Doom'

The Model Will Be Replicated in France and South Korea
UK AI Summit: Aspirations, Benefits and a Lack of 'Doom'
Attendees of the AI Safety Summit in the United Kingdom on Oct. 2, 2023, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: U.K. government)

The U.K. government's summit on artificial intelligence was a venue for national governments to tout their AI aspirations and for participants to stress benefits of the emerging technology.

Conference host and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a post-event press conference told reporters that AI should be seen as a "co-pilot."

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"AI is a tool that can help any do their job faster, and with this event, the U.K. has set very concrete outcomes that will ensure that we all can enjoy the benefits of AI while promoting the safe use of it," he said.

The two-day summit that began on Wednesday at Bletchley Park included participation from U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and OpenAI founder Sam Altman. Sunak convened the summit as part of a bid to convert Great Britain into a global hub for AI development - a goal that has been met with skepticism (see: AI Doom Not Imminent, Say Officials at UK Summit).

Leading government officials used the event to promote their national AI plans. U.S. Vice President Harris announced the new AI Safety Institute and the adoption of a U.S.-backed proposal by 30 nations that prevents the use of artificial intelligence in the military (see: Ensuring Privacy in AI Systems Is Critical, VP Harris Says ).

Day one of the event included multiple closed-door discussions with political and tech leaders on AI risks such as bias and loss of control as well as the leading regulatory efforts to mitigate these threats. Discussions on day two, largely led by Sunak, focused on bilateral initiatives with foreign government representatives and tech leaders.

The United Kingdom pledged additional funds to support computing power needs for AI systems.

Chinese participation at the summit received criticism prior to the event. Vice Minister of Science and Technology Wu Zhaohui called for a global effort in developing international AI governance. He also used the opportunity to stress nations' right to develop their own AI systems.

China is among 28 countries that are signatories to the Bletchley Declaration, which calls for an urgent global consensus on managing various AI risks. On Thursday, the participating nations also signed an agreement to test AI models before their deployment.

Participants lauded the U.K. government for bringing important stakeholders under one roof, a model that will soon be replicated in France and later in South Korea.

An important development as the event unfolded was the emergence of an anti-"AI doom" faction among industry practitioners. Meta Platforms' chief AI scientist Yann LeCun and CEO of Eigen Technologies Lewis Liu accused DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, and Sam Altman of fearmongering.

The differences primarily stem from the experts' differing views on open-access AI, such as ChatGPT, and closed-source AI that is trained on internal or nonpublic data.

During one of the roundtables at the summit, experts concluded that more discussions are needed to weigh the "risks and benefits" of open-source AI.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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