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28 Countries Agree To Safe and Responsible Development of Frontier AI in Landmark Bletchley Declaration  

They’re from across the globe including Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the EU

Leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) nations, convened for the first time by the UK and including the United States and China, along with the European Union, have reached a world-first agreement at Bletchley Park establishing a shared understanding of the opportunities and risks posed by frontier AI and the need for governments to work together to meet the most significant challenges. 

The Bletchley Declaration on AI safety sees 28 countries from across the globe including in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as the EU, 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.

Countries endorsing the Declaration also include Brazil, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.

According to a statement on Thursday signed by Senior Press & Public Affairs Officer/Comms Lead, Prosperity and Economic Development, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, British Deputy High Commission, Ndidiamaka Eze, the Declaration fulfils key summit objectives in establishing shared agreement and responsibility on the risks, opportunities and a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety and research, particularly through greater scientific collaboration. 

She said: “Talks today, with leading frontier AI companies and experts from academia and civil society, will see further discussions on understanding frontier AI risks and improving frontier AI safety.”

She revealed that countries agreed substantial risks may arise from potential intentional misuse or unintended issues of control of frontier AI, with particular concern caused by cybersecurity, biotechnology and misinformation risks, adding that the Declaration sets out agreement that there is “potential for serious, even catastrophic, harm, either deliberate or unintentional, stemming from the most significant capabilities of these AI models.” Countries also noted the risks beyond frontier AI, including bias and privacy.

Eze said recognising the need to deepen the understanding of risks and capabilities that are not fully understood, attendees have also agreed to work together to support a network of scientific research on Frontier AI safety. This builds on the UK Prime Minister’s announcement last week for the UK to establish the world’s first AI Safety Institute and complements existing international efforts including at the G7, OECD, Council of Europe, United Nations and the Global Partnership on AI. This will ensure the best available scientific research can be used to create an evidence base for managing the risks whilst unlocking the benefits of the technology, including through the UK’s AI Safety Institute which will look at the range of risks posed by AI.

She noted that the Declaration details that the risks are “best addressed through international cooperation”. As part of agreeing a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety, The Republic of Korea has agreed to co-host a mini virtual summit on AI in the next six months. France will then host the next in-person Summit in a year from now. Further details on these events will be confirmed in due course.

She said: “This ensures an enduring legacy from the Summit and continued international action to tackle AI risks, including informing national and international risk-based policies across these countries.

“The Declaration, building upon last week’s announcement of the UK’s emerging processes for AI safety, also acknowledges that those developing these unusually powerful and potentially dangerous frontier AI capabilities have a particular responsibility for ensuring the safety of these systems, including by implementing systems to test them and other appropriate measures.”

Commenting on the development, the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“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.

“Under the UK’s leadership, more than twenty five countries at the AI Safety Summit have stated a shared responsibility to address AI risks and take forward vital international collaboration on frontier AI safety and research.

“The UK is once again leading the world at the forefront of this new technological frontier by kickstarting this conversation, which will see us work together to make AI safe and realise all its benefits for generations to come.”

The British Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, said: “Today’s agreement, signed by attendees from across the globe, offers an important first step as we begin two days of vitally important discussions here at Bletchley Park.   

“We have always said that no single country can face down the challenges and risks posed by AI alone, and today’s landmark Declaration marks the start of a new global effort to build public trust by ensuring the technology’s safe development.   

“Bletchley Park marks the start of a long road ahead, and the Summit will kickstart an enduring process to ensure every nation and every citizen can realise the boundless benefits of AI”.   

On his part, the British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said: “AI knows no borders, and its impact on the world will only deepen.

“The UK is proud to have kickstarted the global discussion at Bletchley Park on how we ensure the transformational power of AI is used as a force for good by and for all of us.”

A spokesperson for the French Presidency said: “The French authorities welcome the international and cooperative work cycle launched by the AI Satefy Summit to analyse, understand and respond to the risks that certain Frontier AI models could cause. France is ready to participate in this long-term collective effort and will be happy to host the next in person Summit”.

A spokesperson for the Republic of Korea Government said: “Minister Lee is delighted that Korea will be the co-hosts of the mini virtual summit. Korea is a world leader in technologies like AI and recognises the importance of multilateral cooperation to ensure AI technologies are designed, used and governed in safe ways.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, said: “Artificial Intelligence offers an unprecedented opportunity to appropriate knowledge more quickly and seamlessly in addressing some of our pressing socio-economic challenges. Our duty as policymakers is to ensure that our nation can participate and mainstream value creation from AI.

“As we embark on this journey to accelerating our investment in the use of AI for good, it is essential to collaborate with long-standing allies to deepen our capacity and knowledge.

To mark the opening of the Summit, His Majesty The King of England, King Charles III, delivered a virtual address, via video to the AI Safety Summit as proceedings got underway. He pointed to AI being one of the ‘greatest technological leaps in the history of human endeavour’ and hailed the technology’s enormous potential to transform the lives of citizens across the world through better treatments for conditions like cancer and heart disease. 

The King also spoke of the ‘clear imperative to ensure that this rapidly evolving technology remains safe and secure’ and the need for ‘international coordination and collaboration’. The King’s address signed-off with thanks for the vital role attendees will play over the next two days, laying the foundations for a ‘lasting consensus’ on AI safety to cement its place as a force for good. Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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