UK to host international AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in November

Government announce it will host major event on November 1 and 2, 2023, at which world leaders, leading AI companies and other experts will discuss how to develop AI tech safely. 

AI is, of course, much in the news. We’ve reported recently on the use of AI to diagnose several serious illnesses – with dramatic impacts on health outcomes. Studies suggest AI could increase UK productivity but also affect 40% of all jobs. There are concerns that AI poses an existential risk to humanity.

white and black display shelf

The Colossus Computer on display at the National Museum of Computing, photo by Farai Gandiya

The government-hosted summit will aim to tackle these issues head on, looking at how safety concerns can be addressed through internationally co-ordinated action and rapid, targeted measures. 

The government have already announced the appointment of Matt Clifford and Jonathan Black as the Prime Minister’s representatives in this area. Over the next three months, they will rally lead AI experts and nations in talks ahead of the summit itself. The summit will also build on continuing work already being done in international forums such as the Council of Europe, Global Partnership on AI, OECD and UN, as well as standards-development organisations and the recently agreed G7 Hiroshima AI Process. 

The summit is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to position the UK as a world leader in AI. Some 50,000 people in the UK work in AI, contributing £3.7bn to the economy. Leading AI companies such as Google DeepMind began here. The government also backed the creation of the Foundation Model Taskforce with initial funding of £100m. 

The UK’s longer history in the development of computing is reflected in the choice of venue for the summit. Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was, of course, home to Alan Turing and his successful efforts to break the Enigma code during the Second World War. Indeed, codebreakers Jack Good and Donald Michie were among those from Bletchley that went on to develop computing and technology that can be seen at the roots of AI.  

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says: ‘The UK has long been home to the transformative technologies of the future, so there is no better place to host the first ever global AI safety summit than at Bletchley Park this November.  

‘To fully embrace the extraordinary opportunities of artificial intelligence, we must grip and tackle the risks to ensure it develops safely in the years ahead. 

‘With the combined strength of our international partners, thriving AI industry and expert academic community, we can secure the rapid international action we need for the safe and responsible development of AI around the world.’ 

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, adds: ‘International collaboration is the cornerstone of our approach to AI regulation, and we want the summit to result in leading nations and experts agreeing on a shared approach to its safe use. 

‘The UK is consistently recognised as a world leader in AI and we are well placed to lead these discussions. The location of Bletchley Park as the backdrop will reaffirm our historic leadership in overseeing the development of new technologies.  

‘AI is already improving lives from new innovations in healthcare to supporting efforts to tackle climate change, and November’s summit will make sure we can all realise the technology’s huge benefits safely and securely for decades to come.’ 

Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust, says: ‘Bletchley Park Trust is immensely privileged to have been chosen as the venue for the first major international summit on AI safety this November, and we look forward to welcoming the world to our historic site. 

‘It is fitting that the very spot where leading minds harnessed emerging technologies to influence the successful outcome of World War Two will, once again, be the crucible for international co-ordinated action. 

‘We are incredibly excited to be providing the stage for discussions on global safety standards, which will help everyone manage and monitor the risks of artificial intelligence.’

In related news:

Digital, data and AI strategy for health and care in Wales

Government working on code of practice on copyright and AI

£21m for AI diagnosis on NHS



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