As rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) unlock new possibilities, calls are growing to ensure these powerful technologies remain safe and trusted by society. To coordinate action on AI safety at a global level, Britain will host the historic AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in November 2023. Bringing together key stakeholders from governments, industry, academia and civil society groups, the top five key objectives are on the agenda.
As AI systems become more ubiquitous and powerful, they bring new risks related to bias, misuse, and existential threats from highly sophisticated algorithms. To proactively address these concerns, the British Prime Minister is convening the AI Safety Summit in collaboration with international partners.
The summit, which will take place on 1 and 2 November 2023 at the historic Bletchley Park venue, will facilitate dialogue and stimulate collective action between countries and stakeholders. The summit will specifically focus on the risks of advanced AI capabilities and coordinating measures to ensure security without hindering innovation.
Ahead of the summit, organizers outlined five objectives for the discussions, recommendations and outcomes. These objectives reflect initial consultation with partners and will determine the agenda at the event itself.
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What are the objectives of the AI Safety Summit?
Objective 1: Shared understanding of cross-border AI risks
The first objective is to promote a shared understanding among participants of the risks advanced AI poses, as well as the urgent need for action. With AI developing rapidly, there are misconceptions about the timescales and severity of risks posed by systems that are beyond human capabilities.
The summit will focus on the risks that are unique to or dramatically increased by cutting-edge AI. This includes threats from autonomous weapons, surveillance technologies, algorithmic hacking, lethal autonomous drones and more. Through keynotes and panels, participants will synthesize perspectives on where the key challenges lie currently and in the near future.
Based on this basic risk assessment, the summit can then identify practical steps that key constituencies can take to address these dangers. A collective recognition of the risks will necessitate technology, policy and civil society interventions.
Objective 2: International cooperation on AI safety
As AI research and deployment transcend borders, multilateral coordination is essential to establish governance frameworks, technical standards and policy interventions. However, the politics surrounding AI safety remain complex, with considerations around ethics and values potentially hindering collaboration.
The objective of the second summit thus focuses on developing processes for continued international cooperation to advance AI safety, building on the momentum generated by this meeting. Defining governance structures, developing incentives and laying the foundation for collective investment and data sharing will be key themes.
Both national and international capacities need to be strengthened, including strengthening bodies such as the OECD AI Policy Observatory. The summit will assess how these frameworks can be improved, taking into account national interests and priorities.
Objective 3: Organizational measures for AI safety
A third priority of the summit is to agree on appropriate measures and best practices that public and private sector organizations working with AI should adopt. Because oversight is currently limited, standards are needed in safety engineering, algorithm testing, risk monitoring, and organizational accountability.
The summit will discuss interventions such as internal ethics committees, external audits, risk assessment protocols and red teaming. Measures tailored to the context of government, business and academia will be discussed. Reports with clear organizational guidelines can be a solution.
Government regulation will also be discussed. But organically embedding safety practices within organizations is just as important for sustainable change.
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Objective 4: Collaborative AI security research
Promoting technical solutions through collaborative research is another pillar around which participants will determine their strategy. Key areas of focus may include testing methodologies to validate the capabilities and limitations of advanced models, frameworks for comparing and benchmarking different algorithms, and tools for explainability and monitoring.
The summit can accelerate progress by bringing researchers together around shared priorities for safety-enhancing innovations. Joint funding arrangements, technology exchanges, release of public datasets and open challenges will be explored as mechanisms to encourage collaboration.
Objective 5: Highlight the benefits of safe AI
A final additional objective is to demonstrate how ensuring responsible AI development has broad societal benefits that go beyond simply mitigating risks. Secure AI can drive economic growth through improved decision making, catalyze medical breakthroughs, reduce environmental impact, improve accessibility, and unlock other benefits.
The summit will highlight case studies in areas such as healthcare, transportation, climate and finance, where AI safety enables applications with high potential. This can help build public trust and paint a nuanced narrative around AI risk discussions.
The role of the British government
In announcing the summit’s objectives, the UK government reinforced its commitment to facilitating global cooperation on AI security issues. As home to leading research institutions and AI talent, Britain sees safe AI development as crucial to supporting innovation.
The statement indicated that Britain looks forward to working closely with partners around the world to steer AI on a responsible path. The government plans to invest heavily in domestic surveillance mechanisms and security research in addition to its diplomatic engagements on the international stage.
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The five objectives outlined for the AI Safety Summit 2023 aim to crystallize the risks of advanced AI systems, drive international coordination, implement organizational best practices, promote collaborative technical research and articulating the benefits of safe AI adoption.
With these frameworks guiding the high-level discussions, the summit is positioned to make tangible progress in making AI technologies safer, more equitable, and more trustworthy by societies around the world. But achieving these ambitious goals will require sustained commitment, resources and follow-up after the summit ends. This meeting is just the starting point for establishing sound AI policy and governance for the emerging age of artificial intelligence.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will be some expected outcomes from the summit?
Possible outcomes could include policy recommendations, governance models, codes of practice for AI safety, investments in research collaborations, commitments to continued international collaboration and future meetings.
What is considered ‘cross-border AI’ and how is it considered higher risk?
Frontier AI refers to advanced, specialized algorithms and systems that go beyond current capabilities. This includes technologies such as autonomous weapon systems, surveillance tools, synthetic media generation, and models with new capabilities beyond their training. Risks arise from the fact that they are beyond human control.
How will summit organizers ensure diversity of perspectives?
They strive to create an inclusive list of participants that spans viewpoints, demographics, and geographic regions. There will also be collaboration with external voices from civil society. But ensuring diverse representation remains an ongoing challenge.
Will there be public transparency surrounding the conduct of the summit?
Organizers say they plan to publicly share transcripts, summaries, videos and reports highlighting key discussions, recommended actions and commitments agreed at the summit. But some content may remain off-the-record.
What role will industry play at the summit and in AI safety in general?
Industry partners are critical stakeholders, but potential conflicts of interest require transparency. Policymakers must also recognize that voluntary measures by industry are insufficient and necessitate regulation.
How will the success of the summit be measured after it is completed?
Key indicators include new policies, funding for collaborative initiatives, adoption of best practices, comprehensive monitoring mechanisms, advanced technical tools and continued global coordination. But turning talk into action remains a challenge.