Bletchley Declaration: 29 regions agree on AI safety at UK summit

1 Nov 2023

Rishi Sunak leaving 10 Downing Street. Image: Rory Arnold (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ireland is one of many countries across six continents to have signed the Bletchley Declaration at the UK AI Safety Summit that kicked off today.

The governments of 28 countries and the European Union have signed a declaration on global cooperation in artificial intelligence as the first major outcome of the ongoing AI Safety Summit in the UK.

The list of signatories includes Ireland, the US, China, the UK and India.

The Bletchley Declaration, named after the location of the summit, was published today (1 November) as part of the first day of the global event hosted by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, who has invited some big names in AI development and regulation, including US vice-president Kamala Harris and tech billionaire Elon Musk.

“This is a landmark achievement that sees the world’s greatest AI powers agree on the urgency behind understanding the risks of AI – helping ensure the long-term future of our children and grandchildren,” Sunak said at the summit, according to Reuters.

According to a statement released by the UK government on the Bletchley Declaration, it will establish a “shared agreement and responsibility on the risks, opportunities and a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety”, particularly through greater scientific collaboration.

Other countries to sign the declaration include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Spain and the UAE. The agreement marks the first notable time the US and China, who are currently not on good terms in relation to tech collaboration, have consented to cooperation on AI.

Meanwhile, the US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo, who is also in attendance at the AI Safety Summit, announced a new AI safety institute that would be a US-led organisation that works with other similar national initiatives across the world.

“We have to get to work and between our institutes we have to get to work to [achieve] policy alignment across the globe,” Raimondo was quoted by TechCrunch as saying.

This comes in the same week as US president Joe Biden signed an executive order to create AI safeguards and lead the global push to regulate AI.

“One thing is clear: To realise the promise of AI and avoid the risks, we need to govern this technology,” Biden said. “There’s no other way around it, in my view. It must be governed.”

While the order is an attempt by the US government to become a leader in regulating the tech it has become the breeding ground of innovation for, it is far from the first to attempt this.

European lawmakers passed the landmark AI Act in June to rein in ‘high-risk’ AI activities and protect the rights of citizens. The rules will make certain AI technology prohibited and add others to a high-risk list, forcing certain obligations on the tech’s creators.

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Rishi Sunak leaving 10 Downing Street. Image: Rory Arnold (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic