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The AI Safety Summit

29 November 2023

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents enormous global opportunities: it has the potential to transform and enhance human wellbeing, peace and prosperity. To realise this, we affirm that, for the good of all, AI should be designed, developed, deployed, and used, in a manner that is safe, in such a way as to be human-centric, trustworthy and responsible. We welcome the international community’s efforts so far to cooperate on AI to promote inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and innovation, to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to foster public trust and confidence in AI systems to fully realise their potential.” – The Bletchley Declaration by Countries Attending the AI Safety Summit 2023

With attendees from the governments of 29 countries, industry leaders like Google and Meta, and the United Nations and Council of Europe, the first international AI Safety Summit was held in the UK at Bletchley Park on 1 and 2 November 2023.  The next Summit will be held in 6 months’ time in South Korea, and then 6 months’ later in France.

Lynn Richmond
Lynn Richmond

Sian Keddie
Sian Keddie
Trainee Solicitor

This was an important and defining moment in human history.  Innovations in technology, and in particular AI, are advancing at a seemingly exponential rate, with companies and countries seeking to enter a race to the top while also trying to ensure the advancements are safe and robust.  This Summit was designed to address these issues and bring about a number of roundtable discussions with a cross-section of disciplines and backgrounds, to consider the benefits to be gleaned from AI as well as the dangers.

The roundtables were as follows:

Risks to global safety from Frontier AI misuse

  1. Risks from unpredictable advances in Frontier AI capability
  2. Risks from loss of control over Frontier AI
  3. Risks from the integration of Frontier AI into society
  4. What should Frontier AI developers do to scale culpability responsibly?
  5. What should national policymakers do in relation to the risk and opportunities of AI?
  6. What should the international community do in relation to the risks and opportunities of AI?
  7. What should the scientific community do in relation to the risks and opportunities of AI?
  8. Priorities for international attention on AI over the next 5 years to 2028
  9. Creating actions and next steps for future collaboration

Key takeaways from each of these roundtable discussions can be found at its dedicated website: AI Safety Summit 2023 - GOV.UK ( and is well worth a read.  The site goes into some detail about each discussion and the key takeaways that were agreed.

There was a general agreement that a key risk of AI is the spread of disinformation.  It is thought that upcoming elections in a number of countries, to include the UK and US, are likely to be affected by the use of generative AI to spread misinformation among the voting public.  Nick Clegg, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and now President of Global Affairs at Meta, agreed at the Summit that there are some immediate risks posed to democracy by generative AI.  Fortunately, this risk is identified and there appears to be a significant amount of work going in to mitigating it.

While it is recognised that AI development will naturally be a competition in many ways, the Summit considered at length about how this can be encouraged for the greater benefit of society while also ensuring the correct protocols and protections are in place.  The point was raised, for example, that there is far more risk of a human giving AI more power than it should have, than the AI developing this power for itself. 

In short, these protections are as good as the technology’s creators and provided this is maintained, there is an almost unfathomable amount of good that can be done for society, the economy and the environment with this technology. For example, agricultural AI might be used to generate food production volume relative to population, to ensure sufficient supplies are available across the world.  Another example is the way AI could be utilised to work on slowing or even putting a stop to the global climate crisis.

That being said, the importance of ongoing international summits is generally agreed.  Countries are, by virtue of their economy, infrastructure and access to technology, moving at different speeds when it comes to international development.  Having these summits allows countries to come together and tackle the problems that may occur due to this disparity and to ensure, as much as possible, that those at the top of the AI food chain do as much as possible to help people up the ladder behind them.

Lynn Richmond, Partner & Accredited Specialist in Intellectual Property: / 0131 222 2939

Sian Keddie, Trainee Solicitor: / 0131 222 2939

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