With artificial intelligence (AI) rapidly advancing, the UK held the first ever AI Safety Summit (Summit) at Bletchley Park on 1 November and 2 November 2023 aiming to consider the risks of AI and discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action. The Summit welcomed representatives from leading AI nations, businesses, civil society groups and AI experts to meet and discuss the future of AI and the risks that it poses to society.
On the first day of the Summit, the attending countries reached a world first agreement, the Bletchley Declaration, for the safe and responsible development of Frontier AI, a term given by the UK government to “highly capable general-purpose AI models that can perform a wide variety of tasks and match or exceed the capabilities present in today’s most advanced model.” The UK Government will be equipped with supercomputers to form an AI Research Resource and to analyse AI models including their safety and potential for breakthroughs in areas such as drug discovery and clean energy.
The second day of the Summit welcomed the launch of the new AI Safety Institute, another world first. The AI Safety Institute will be based in the UK and tasked with testing the safety of new types of AI, including exploring risks such as bias and misinformation, to the most extreme risk, such as AI surpassing human intelligence leading to humanity losing control of AI completely.
The two days demonstrated an international commitment to the safe development of AI and the need for continuous research and testing to ensure that society is protected from the more harmful capabilities AI pose.
The Bletchley Declaration
The Bletchley Declaration established a shared understanding of risks and opportunities that are presented by Frontier AI. Twenty eight countries from across the world have agreed to the urgent need to understand and collectively manage the potential risks through ensuring that AI is developed and deployed in a safe, responsible way for the benefit of the global community.
Whilst the Bletchley Declaration recognises the clear benefits of AI systems in areas such as health and education, science, clean energy and climate control to strengthen efforts towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it also recognises the significant risks posed. It welcomes international efforts to review and address the potential impact of AI systems “and the recognition that the protection of human rights, transparency and explainability, fairness, accountability, regulation, safety, appropriate human oversight, ethics, bias mitigation, privacy and data protection needs to be addressed.” It was also recognised that there are potential risks which have not yet been identified, particularly risks of content manipulation or generating deceptive content. Concerns were also expressed around risks to cybersecurity and biotechnology.
Due to the fast paced development and investment in technology, the Bletchley Declaration is an affirmation that the participating countries would deepen their understanding of the risks and what actions can be taken to address them urgently.
To ensure that AI safety remains an ongoing discussion, the Republic of Korea has agreed to co-host a mini virtual summit in the next six months and France has agreed to host the next in-person Summit this time next year. We will continue to monitor how AI safety and risk mitigation progresses.
Written by Shivani Pandya, Solicitor and Melissa Scott, Trainee Solicitor in our Commercial team.