UK Safety Summit and US Executive Order focus on opportunities and risks of AI

3 November 2023 | Muriel Cozier

Bletchley Park Declaration signed by 28 countries.

The UK’s AI Safety Summit, held at Bletchley Park, 1-2 November, has reached what is said to be the ‘world’s first agreement’ on ‘establishing a shared understanding of the opportunities and risks posed by frontier AI and the need for governments to work together to meet the most significant challenges.’

The so-called ‘Bletchley Park Declaration’ has been signed by 28 countries including Brazil, Chile, China, India, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkiye, the UK, the US, and the European Union. It sets out agreement that there is ‘potential for serious, even catastrophic harm, either deliberate or unintentional, stemming from the most significant capabilities of these AI models’ Signatories also noted the risks beyond frontier AI, including bias and privacy.

The gathering also put in place plans for the next meeting, a mini virtual summit on AI, which will be co-hosted by the Republic of Korea in the next six months. France will host the next in-person Summit one year from now. This move ensures continued international action to tackle AI risks, including informing national and international risk-based policies across these countries, the UK government said.

While a signatory to the Bletchley Park Declaration, the US is also looking to take a lead on AI safety, issuing an Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. Made public shortly before the start of the UK Summit, the Executive Order establishes ‘new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world and more.’

The Executive Order has been welcomed by US Members of Congress, business leaders and civil society. A joint statement from leading AI security innovation companies said: ‘We believe that the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order provides a sound framework for addressing the emerging security and safety AI threats and ensuring that AI is developed and used in a safe, secure and trustworthy manner.’

Focusing on the collaborative effort, UK Secretary of State for Science Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan said as the Bletchley Park Declaration was signed: ‘We have always said that no single country can face down the challenges and risks posed by AI alone, and today’s landmark Declaration marks the start of a new global effort to build public trust by ensuring the technology’s safe development […] The Summit will kickstart an enduring process to ensure every nation and every citizen can realise the boundless benefits of AI.’

In September the UK parliament’s Science, Innovation and Technology Committee released an interim report setting out twelve challenges related to AI governance that policy makers must address if the public’s safety and confidence are to be secured.

In addition the UK government said, during 2022, that it was piloting a new AI Standards Hub, aimed at increasing the UK’s contribution in the development of global principles for AI. The Alan Turing Institute was selected to lead the hub.

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