Delegates representing 28 nations gathered in the United Kingdom for the inaugural International AI Safety Summit to address pressing concerns arising from the rapid advancements of artificial intelligence. In it, delegates from the participating countries vowed to contain the potential risks related to AI-powered technologies, such as a massive cyberattack event and the proliferation of misinformation, among many others. However, the delegates were not able to agree on a standardized way to regulate the development of this emerging technology.
For Britain's Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, the summit was “a landmark achievement that sees the world’s greatest AI powers agree on the urgency behind understanding the risks of AI – helping ensure the long-term future of our children and grandchildren." Nevertheless, United States Vice President Kamala Harris urged nations to accelerate their efforts and delve deeper into the challenges posed by AI. Additionally, she emphasized the necessity of holding tech companies accountable through effective legislative measures.
During the AI Safety Summit, delegates discussed the possibility of applying open source AI systems to enable rapid problem discovery through a knowledge-sharing approach. Nevertheless, Yoshua Bangio, Turing Award-winning computer scientist, expressed his concerns regarding open source, warning the participants that once the system has been released “anybody can use it and tune it for malicious purposes".
For China's Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Wu Zhaohui, AI technology is “uncertain, unexplainable, and lacks transparency. It brings risks and challenges in ethics, safety, privacy, and fairness." As such, Prime Minister Sunak argued that a thorough understanding of AI should precede regulation, as overly strict policies could impede the technological development of artificial intelligence.
In contrast, Vice President Harris emphasized immediate action, citing President Biden’s recent executive order aimed at outlining potential AI safeguards. “President Biden and I believe that all leaders have a moral, ethical, and social duty to make sure that AI is adopted and advanced in a way that protects the public from potential harm and ensures that everyone is able to enjoy its benefits,” said Harris.
Michelle Donelan, UK’s Science and Technology Minister, considers that striking a healthy regulatory balance that mitigates AI risks without impacting its development should be a priority. “If we terrify people too much, or if we shy away because we do not grip these risks, then we will not see [AI’s] adoption in” its National Health Service, transport network, climate change efforts, or support developing nations tackle issues like food inequality. “And that would be the biggest tragedy,” said Donelan.
While the AI Safety Summit failed to develop a regulatory AI framework, it culminated in the signing of the Bletchley Declaration, symbolizing the shared commitment of nations to mitigate AI-related risks. As outlined in the declaration, participant countries pledged to work towards “shared agreement and responsibility” about AI risks. To further their commitment, the delegates scheduled a series of follow-up meetings, with South Korea hosting a virtual AI summit in six months and France planning an in-person meeting a year from now.
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