Bletchley Park set to host the UK’s Global AI Safety Summit in November

August 25, 2023

AI Summit

The UK has announced the dates for a high-profile summit focused on AI safety, which will take place on November 1 and 2 at Bletchley Park, the historic site where computing pioneer Alan Turing worked during World War II.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated, “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.” 

He added, “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.”

The guest list remains undisclosed, sparking speculation about who will be invited, including whether representatives from the Chinese government and China’s big tech executives will attend.

The summit’s agenda includes a focus on “internationally co-ordinated action” for AI safety, although no detailed topics have been confirmed as of yet.

Debates surrounding AI safety have progressively escalated throughout the year, with the US nonprofit Center of AI Safety (CAIS) comparing the risks of AI to those of nuclear technology. 

Issues surrounding bias raise questions about how we depend on AI for critical decision-making, for example, in legal scenarios, healthcare, and welfare. 

Meanwhile, the Internet Watch Foundation raised concerns in July about the rise in AI-generated child sexual abuse imagery and called upon Mr. Sunak to address the issue.

The UK government wishes to position itself as a pivotal player in the global AI arena, though US and Chinese companies are thoroughly dominant in the sector. Mr. Sunak has announced an initial £13m ($16.5bn) to fund domestic AI R&D.

American AI giants like OpenAI, Anthropic, and Palantir have all committed to establishing their headquarters in London. However, Mustafa Suleyman, British co-founder of DeepMind, has opted to base his new AI venture, Inflection, in California, citing the need for the UK to foster a ‘risk-taking culture’ to truly excel in the AI field.

Bletchley Park, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, played an instrumental role in advancing modern computing. 

Bletchley park
Bletchley Park was where British computer scientists worked to decode the Axis powers’ ciphers in WW2. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

On the grounds of the inauspicious country house, Alan Turing and other computer scientists worked tirelessly to decode Germany’s secret conversations.

The Colossus computer, built in 1943, was the world’s first programmable electronic computer. 

Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust, remarked, “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.” 

He added that the Trust is “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.”

The summit is viewed as a monumental step towards tackling AI’s complex challenges and opportunities, and all eyes are on who will be participating in these crucial discussions.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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