Roundup: How did the world's first AI safety summit go?

(Xinhua) 11:29, November 05, 2023

LONDON, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- The world's first Artificial Intelligence (AI) safety summit has concluded at Bletchley Park in central Britain as countries gathered to discuss the global future of AI and work toward a shared understanding of its risks.

What did representatives from nearly 30 countries, international organizations, top AI companies and research institutions discuss during the two-day event that ended on Thursday? What has been achieved?


During the summit, roundtable discussions were held around two types of AI, namely, frontier AI and narrow AI.

Frontier AI is at the cutting edge of technological advancement -- therefore offering the most opportunities but also presenting new risks. It refers to highly capable general-purpose AI models, most often foundation models, that can perform a wide variety of tasks and match or exceed the capabilities of today's most advanced models.

Narrow AI is designed to perform a specific task. It is a specific type of AI in which a learning algorithm is designed to perform a single task or narrow set of tasks, and any knowledge gained from performing the task will not automatically be applicable or transferable to a wide variety of tasks.

The discussions aimed to achieve five objectives: a shared understanding of the risks posed by frontier AI and the need for action; a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety, including how best to support national and international frameworks; appropriate measures which individual organizations should take to increase frontier AI safety; areas for potential collaboration on AI safety research, including evaluating model capabilities and the development of new standards to support governance; showcasing how ensuring the safe development of AI will enable AI to be used for good globally.


During the summit, the "Bletchley Declaration" on AI safety was reached and has been hailed as a landmark.

Sean O'Heigeartaigh, director of the AI: Futures and Responsibility Programme at the University of Cambridge, said: "The Bletchley Declaration represents an important step forward on managing the risks and realizing the benefits of frontier AI systems. It shows international consensus that frontier AI systems represent significant risks."

The declaration sees 28 countries from across the globe in Africa, the Middle East, Asia as well as the European Union agreeing to the urgent need to understand and collectively manage potential risks through a new joint global effort to ensure AI is developed and deployed in a safe, responsible way for the benefit of the global community.

The declaration said that the risks are "best addressed through international cooperation," as attendees have agreed to work together to "support a network of scientific research on Frontier AI safety."

However, there have also been opinions that even though such a declaration was issued during the summit, it is mainly in principle. Others say that countries have yet to work out a clear roadmap for global cooperation and no specific measures concerning cooperation on AI safety have been proposed.

According to the British government, South Korea agreed to co-host a mini virtual summit on AI in the next six months, and France will then host the next summit a year from now.


During the summit, the presence of a Chinese delegation attracted a lot of attention, with experts saying that China, as one of the leading AI nations, is indispensable in the global dialogue on AI safety and opportunities.

Statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization showed that Chinese institutions applied for 29,853 AI-related patents in 2022, accounting for more than 40 percent of global AI applications over the past year.

Tino Cuellar, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: "The presence of China is important because it does provide an indication that this will be a truly global conversation."

SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk said: "Having them (China) here I think was essential, really. If they're not participants, it's pointless." Musk believed it's "a good thing" for the United States, Britain and China to be "aligned on (AI) safety."

Wu Zhaohui, China's vice minister of science and technology who led the Chinese delegation, spoke at the opening plenary session of the summit on Wednesday. The Chinese delegation participated in discussions on AI safety and other issues.

The Chinese delegation promoted China's Global Artificial Intelligence Governance Initiative launched at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on Oct. 17-18, and carried out bilateral talks with relevant countries.

The Chinese delegation expressed willingness to work with all parties to strengthen communication and exchanges on AI safety governance, and contribute wisdom to the formation of an international mechanism with universal participation, and a governance framework with broad consensus.

The Chinese delegation also noted that China is willing to work with all sides to implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, and promote AI technology to better benefit humankind and build a community with a shared future. ■

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Kou Jie)


Related Stories