The UK is hosting the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park on November 1st and 2nd, with the aim of bringing together key countries, technology organisations, academia and civil society to better understand the benefits and dangers that AI technologies may bring, worldwide.
It is seen as an attempt to create a global framework for future collaboration between countries in order to, amongst other objectives, create international standards that can be used for the development and use of so-called ‘frontier technologies’.
This is a laudable aim but it is not without its issues, most notable of which is whether all of the ‘serious players’ in the World will actually be there.
The US, EU and China are all seen as having stolen a march on the UK when it comes to setting standards for development and exploitation of AI technologies but there is still some doubt as to whether China will actually turn up.
That, coupled with the fact that each one of these three are jostling for position to be the #No1 default choice for developmental standards and credibility suggests that whatever statements come out of the summit will either be so bland as to be pretty meaningless or highlight the major differences between the Big Three.
And what of the hosts, the UK? Aside from the political kudos of hosting the summit, the UK may hope to be seen as the facilitator of some sort of international accord. It has its own approach to the development of AI set out in its White Paper of March 2023 but if it does actually manage to obtain some sort of agreement on the way forward for standards and regulation, then this should be seen as a success.
The AI industry is crying out for some sort of leadership from regulators so that what it is developing can be exploited for all. It goes without saying that inherently unsafe practices or technologies need regulatory scrutiny but at the same time, overzealous regulation may stifle development and piece meal standardisation will just create a situation whereby companies seek to forum shop in order to develop ‘high risk’ products in the least regulated environments.
Let us hope that the summit allows the participants to agree that there are substantial benefits in the use of this technology for all, without becoming overly paranoid about the risks, and that it manages to foster some kind of global consensus about the way forward rather than sow the seeds of a global AI tech race between competing powers.