Historic UK codebreaking base to host 'world first' AI safety summit

Historic UK codebreaking base to host 'world first' AI safety summit

Bletchley Park is where top British codebreakers cracked Nazi Germany's "Enigma" code, hastening the end of World War II
Bletchley Park is where top British codebreakers cracked Nazi Germany's "Enigma" code, hastening the end of World War II. Photo: Chris Radburn / POOL/AFP/File
Source: AFP

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Britain will host a two-day international summit in November to explore how artificial intelligence can be safely developed, the government said on Thursday.

The "world first" gathering will be held on November 1-2 at Bletchley Park, where top British codebreakers cracked Nazi Germany's "Enigma" code, hastening the end of World War II.

It is also the home of the National Museum of Computing, home to the world's largest collection of working historic computers.

The planned event comes as experts have warned of the dangers of the new technology without regulation.

"To fully embrace the extraordinary opportunities of artificial intelligence, we must grip and tackle the risks to ensure it develops safely in the years ahead," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

Sunak, who has called AI "the defining technology of our time", announced the summit on a visit to Washington in June.

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The same month ChatGPT creator OpenAI said it would open its first office outside the United States in London.

Its decision was welcomed by the UK government as a "vote of confidence for Britain as an AI powerhouse".

Sunak wants a future global AI regulator to be based in London, angling for a place at the table as the United States and the European Union seek to establish an AI code of conduct.

OpenAI chief Sam Altman backs long-term institutional oversight but has warned that "heavy regulation" could hamper the rapid development of the technology.

His company said "London's vibrant technology ecosystem and its exceptional talent make it the ideal location" to locate its first international office.

Around 50,000 people are employed in the UK's AI sector.

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"With the combined strength of our international partners, thriving AI industry and expert academic community, we can secure the rapid international action we need for the safe and responsible development of AI around the world," added Sunak.

ChatGPT burst into the spotlight late last year, demonstrating an ability to generate essays, poems and conversations from the briefest of prompts.

Common worries have included the possibility that chatbots could flood the web with disinformation, that biased algorithms will churn out racist material, or that AI-powered automation could lay waste to entire industries.

A group of industry chiefs and experts, including Altman, even warned earlier this year that governments should prioritise tackling the potential risks from AI along with "pandemics and nuclear war".

UK Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said international collaboration would be the "cornerstone" of the UK's approach to AI which was already delivering innovations in areas from health care to efforts to tackle climate change.

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"We want the summit to result in leading nations and experts agreeing on a shared approach to its safe use," she said.

The international gathering would ensure the technology's "huge benefits" could be realised "safely and securely for decades to come", she added.

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Source: AFP

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