Long reads

AI Safety Summit: What happened at Bletchley Park?

Madhvi Mavadiya

Madhvi Mavadiya

Head of Content, Finextra

Leaders from across the world gathered in the land of concrete cows and roundabouts for the first ever global summit on artificial intelligence (AI) in early November 2023. Notable attendees such as X founder Elon Musk, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and of course, will.i.am, were welcomed to Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, once the top-secret home of the World War II Codebreakers.

This article will answer the all-important questions listed below:

  1. What were the priorities of the AI Safety Summit?
  2. What was the intended programme?
  3. What was announced at the AI Safety Summit?
  4. What is the Bletchley Declaration?
  5. Will there be another AI Safety Summit?
  6. How many roundabouts are there in Milton Keynes?

What were the priorities of the AI Safety Summit?

Hosted by the UK across two days, the intention of the conference was to “bring together international governments, leading AI companies, civil society groups and experts in research.” It also aimed to “consider the risks of AI, especially at the frontier of development,” and “discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action.”

What was the intended programme?

On the 1st of November, the UK’s Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan opened the event and countries that are at the forefront of AI development followed, as well as the UK’s Frontier AI Taskforce. Delegates then broke out into different sessions to discuss the following topics.

  • Risks to Global Safety from Frontier AI Misuse

Discussion of the safety risks posed by recent and next generation frontier AI models, including risks to biosecurity and cybersecurity.

  • Risks from Unpredictable Advances in Frontier AI Capability

Discussion of risks from unpredictable ‘leaps’ in frontier AI capability as models are rapidly scaled, emerging forecasting methods, and implications for future AI development, including open-source.

  • Risks from Loss of Control over Frontier AI

Discussion of whether and how very advanced AI could in the future lead to loss of human control and oversight, risks this would pose, and tools to monitor and prevent these scenarios.

  • Risks from the Integration of Frontier AI into Society

Risks from the integration of frontier AI into society include election disruption, bias, impacts on crime and online safety, and exacerbating global inequalities. Discussion will include measures countries are already taking to address these risks.

  • What should Frontier AI developers do to scale responsibly?

Multidisciplinary discussion of Responsible Capability Scaling at frontier AI developers including defining risk thresholds, effective model risk assessments, pre-commitments to specific risk mitigations, robust governance and accountability mechanisms, and model development choices.

  • What should National Policymakers do in relation to the risk and opportunities of AI?

Multidisciplinary discussion of different policies to manage frontier AI risks in all countries including monitoring, accountability mechanisms, licensing, and approaches to open-source AI models, as well as lessons learned from measures already being taken.

  • What should the International Community do in relation to the risk and opportunities of AI?

Multidisciplinary discussion of where international collaboration is most needed to both manage risks and realise opportunities from frontier AI, including areas for international research collaborations.

  • What should the Scientific Community do in relation to the risk and opportunities of AI?

Multidisciplinary discussion of the current state of technical solutions for frontier AI safety, the most urgent areas of research, and where promising solutions are emerging.

On day two, Sunak convened a small group of governments, companies and experts to further the discussion. It was here that Sunak and Musk discussed developments in the AI sector, possibilities for future development and regulation, and philosophised on what AI means for people on social and ethical levels.

Musk remarked on the unsettling potential of AI: “We are seeing the most disruptive force in history here. There will come a point where no job is needed - you can have a job if you want one for personal satisfaction but AI will do everything. I don’t know if that makes people comfortable or uncomfortable.”

What was announced at the AI Safety Summit?

The world’s first AI Safety Institute was launched at the AI Safety Summit, and this global hub will test the safety of emerging types of AI. Backed by leading AI companies and nations, the Frontier AI Taskforce will now become the AI Safety Institute, led by Ian Hogarth.

“The Institute will carefully test new types of frontier AI before and after they are released to address the potentially harmful capabilities of AI models, including exploring all the risks, from social harms like bias and misinformation, to the most unlikely but extreme risk, such as humanity losing control of AI completely. In undertaking this research, the AI Safety Institute will look to work closely with the Alan Turing Institute, as the national institute for data science and AI.”

The Institute will also be provided with access to the compute needed, which includes making use of the new AI Research Resource, an expanding £300 million network that will include some of Europe’s largest super computers, increasing the UK’s AI super compute capacity by a factor of thirty. The UK Government also announced additional investment in Bristol’s ‘Isambard-AI’ and a new computer called ‘Dawn in Cambridge, that researchers will be able to access at the same time to boost their research and make AI safe.

What is the Bletchley Declaration?

The Bletchley Declaration on AI safety sees 28 countries from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as the EU, agreeing to “the urgent need to understand and collectively manage potential risks through a new joint global effort to ensure AI is developed and deployed in a safe, responsible way for the benefit of the global community. Countries endorsing the Declaration include Brazil, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.”

Will there be another AI Safety Summit?

The Bletchley Declaration mentioned that AI risk is “best addressed through international cooperation”.

The Republic of Korea will co-host a mini virtual summit on AI in the next 6 months.

France will host the next in-person Summit in a year from now.

How many roundabouts are there in Milton Keynes?

The five UK cities with the most roundabouts are Milton Keynes, East Kilbride, Swindon, Basingstoke and Cwmbran. Milton Keynes has 130 roundabouts, with many more to come. 

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