• World
  • Nov 03

Explainer - What is ‘Bletchley Declaration’?

• The United Kingdom hosted the first international AI Safety Summit Bletchley Park on November 1 and 2.

• Delegates from 28 nations, including India, and the European Union have reached a world-first agreement establishing a shared understanding of the opportunities and risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI).

• The summit brought together around 100 politicians, academics and tech executives to plot a way forward for a technology that could transform the way companies, societies and economies operate.

• UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the ‘Bletchley Declaration’ a landmark achievement.

Historical significance of Bletchley Park

• Bletchley Park is a historic site regarded as one of the birthplaces of computer science, and renowned for its pivotal role in World War II codebreaking.

• The site was the place where the world’s first semi-programmable computers were deployed, such as the Colossus used to defeat Germany.

• Alan Turing was one of the computing pioneers and leading minds who worked here. A pioneering mathematician who is often considered ‘the father of computer science’, his powerful mind allowed him to break conceptual ground in the fields of both cryptography and computing.

• Alan Turing helped the British government pioneer the technology to decrypt Germany’s secret communications during World War II.

Artificial Intelligence

• The term ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) means a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations or decisions influencing real or virtual environments.

• AI is expected to change the way we work and live. In view of its positive impact on the economy, the technology is being embraced by countries across the world. Its proliferation is being regarded as the fourth industrial revolution.

• AI presents enormous global opportunities: it has the potential to transform and enhance human well-being, peace and prosperity.

• AI promises to transform nearly every aspect of our economy and society. The opportunities are transformational — advancing drug discovery, making transport safer and cleaner, improving public services, speeding up and improving diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer and much more.

• However, AI should be designed, developed, deployed, and used, in a manner that is safe, in such a way as to be human-centric, trustworthy and responsible. 

• “Frontier AI” is defined as highly capable general-purpose AI models that can perform a wide variety of tasks and match or exceed the capabilities present in today’s most advanced models. Today, this primarily includes large language models (LLMs) such as those underlying ChatGPT, Claude, and Bard.

• It is being augmented with tools to enhance its capabilities, and is being increasingly integrated into systems that can have a wide impact on the economy and society.

• Developments in frontier AI are transforming productivity and software services, which will multiply the productivity of many industries and sectors. 

• This progress in frontier AI in recent years has been rapid, and the most advanced systems can write text fluently and at length, write well-functioning code from natural language instructions, make new apps, score highly on school exams, generate convincing news articles, translate between many languages, summarise lengthy documents, amongst other capabilities. 

• The opportunities are vast, and there is great potential for increasing the productivity of workers of all kinds. 

• However, these huge opportunities come with risks that could threaten global stability and undermine our values. 

• AI poses risks in ways that do not respect national boundaries. It is important that governments, academia, businesses, and civil society work together to navigate these risks, which are complex and hard to predict, to mitigate the potential dangers and ensure AI benefits society.

Bletchley Declaration

• The Bletchley Declaration on AI safety sees 28 countries from across the globe, 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 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. 

• 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.

• 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 disinformation risks. 

• Countries also noted the risks beyond frontier AI, including bias and privacy.

• Recognising the need to deepen the understanding of risks and capabilities that are not fully understood, the delegates have also agreed to work together to support a network of scientific research on frontier AI safety.

• As part of agreeing a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety, South 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.

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