May 19, 2024

UK AI Safety Summit begins with global leaders in attendance, remarks from China and Musk

The U.K. AI Safety Summit concluded its first day with a common declaration, the U.S. announcing an AI safety institute, China willing to communicate on AI safety and comments from Elon Musk.

The United Kingdom’s global summit on artificial intelligence (AI) safety, “AI Safety Summit” began on Nov. 1 and will carry on through Nov. 2 with government officials and leading AI companies from the world in attendance, including from the United States and China. 

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is hosting the event, which is taking place nearly 55 miles north of London in Bletchley Park. It comes at the end of a year of rapid advancements in the widespread use and accessibility of AI models following the emergence of OpenAI’s popular AI chatbot ChatGPT.

Who is in attendance?

The AI Safety Summit expects to have around 100 guests in attendance. This includes leaders of many of the world’s prominent AI companies such as Microsoft president Brad Smith, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Google and DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, Meta’s AI chief Yann LeCunn and its president of global affairs Nick Clegg and billionaire Elon Musk.

On a governmental level, global leaders from around 27 countries are expected to be in attendance including the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the secretary-general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres.

The U.K. also extended the invitation to China, which has been a major competitor to Western governments and companies in AI development. Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Wu Zhaohui will be attending, along with companies Alibaba and Tencent.

Initial summit proceedings

The two-day summit’s primary aim is to create dialogue and cooperation between its dynamic group of international attendees to shape the future of AI, with a focus on “frontier AI models.” These AI models are defined as highly capable, multipurpose AI models that equal or surpass the capabilities of current models available.

The first day included several roundtable discussions on risks to global safety and integrating frontier AI into society. There was also an “AI for good” discussion on the opportunities presented by AI to transform education.

The ‘Bletchley Declaration’ and the U.S.’s AI Safety Institute

During the summit, Britain published the “Bletchley Declaration” which serves as an agreement to boost global efforts of cooperation in AI safety. The signatories of said declaration included 28 countries, including the U.S. and China, along with the European Union.

In a separate statement on the declaration, the U.K. government said:

“The Declaration fulfills key summit objectives in establishing shared agreement and responsibility on the risks, opportunities and a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety and research, particularly through greater scientific collaboration.”

Other countries endorsing the statement include Brazil, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.

Related: Biden administration issues executive order for new AI safety standards

In addition, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said that it plans to create its own AI Safety Institute, focusing on the risks of frontier models.

Raimondo said she will “certainly” be calling on many in the audience who are “in academia and the industry” to participate in the initiative. She also suggested a formal partnership with the U.K.’s Safety Institute.

Musk calls summit a “referee” 

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform X and CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, has been a prominent voice in the AI space. He has already participated in talks with global regulators on the subject. 

At the U.K’s AI Safety Summit on Wednesday, he said the summit wanted to create a “”third-party referee” oversee AI development and warn of any concerns.

According to a Reuters report Musk is quoted saying:

“What we’re really aiming for here is to establish a framework for insight so that there’s at least a third-party referee, an independent referee, that can observe what leading AI companies are doing and at least sound the alarm if they have concerns.”

He also said before there is “oversight” there must be “insight” inference to global leaders making any mandates. “I think there’s a lot of concern among people in the AI field that the government will sort of jump the gun on rules, before knowing what to do,” Musk said.

Related: UN launches international effort to tackle AI governance challenges

China says it’s ready to bolster communications

Also in attendance was China’s Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Wu Zhaohui who emphasized that everyone has the right to develop and deploy AI.

“We uphold the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits. Countries regardless of their size and scale have equal rights to develop and use AI,” he said.

“We call for global cooperation to share AI knowledge and make AI technologies available to the public on open source terms.”

He said that China is “willing to enhance our dialogue and communication in AI safety” with “all sides.” These remarks come as China and many Western countries, particularly the U.S., have been racing to create the most advanced technology on the market. 

The summit will continue for its final day on Nov. 2 with remarks from the U.K. Prime Minister and U.K. Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan.

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