Rishi Sunak to potentially ban Chinese officials from AI Safety Summit

September 16, 2023

AI Safety Summit

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly contemplating a partial ban on Chinese officials attending the AI Safety Summit this November at Bletchley Park. 

The move comes in the wake of heightened concerns regarding alleged spying activities by Beijing on Western governments.

Sunak’s office had initially invited China to the summit, which is expected to shape global approaches to AI safety and ethics.

However, recent incidents, such as the arrest of a parliamentary researcher suspected of espionage for China earlier this year, have cast doubts over China’s participation. 

According to sources close to the summit’s planning who spoke to The Guardian, Chinese officials may only be allowed to attend the first day of the two-day event. 

International leaders set to attend the summit include French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission. 

US President Joe Biden will not attend, delegating Vice President Kamala Harris as his representative instead.

“We always knew Biden was unlikely to attend, but the question Downing Street now has to decide is what to do about the Chinese,” said a source with knowledge of the summit plans.

A spokesperson for the UK government noted that the summit aims to “drive targeted, rapid international action on the safe and responsible development of the technology.” 

The guestlist is yet to be confirmed

The spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of who might or might not be invited, stating, “As is routine for summits of this nature, we won’t speculate on potential invitees.”

The summit’s agenda focuses on the risks posed by AI technologies, such as misinformation, fraud, and the potential acceleration of biohazards and bioweapons. 

Other invitees will range from heads of government to tech industry executives, like Sir Nick Clegg, who is expected to attend as President of Global Affairs for Meta.

While the partial ban on Chinese officials is yet to be confirmed, it symbolizes the mounting tensions between China and Western nations over technology and intelligence. 

It would be a shame for China not to participate, as their AI industry has lately roared into action with the public release of chatbots like ChatGPT.

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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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