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  • Mal McCallion

Where it all began: AI Summit at historic Bletchley Park

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

Credit where credit's due - the UK Government has had a good idea.

This November, it's set to host a global summit on artificial intelligence (AI), and the chosen venue is none other than Bletchley Park, the iconic site where mathematician Alan Turing cracked the Enigma code during World War Two.

Turing, of course, was the first to deeply consider AI, resulting in his seminal paper 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence', published in 1950. You can trace almost all the progress towards building human-like brainpower through non-human entities to his ideas. As such, hosting this event at Turning's spiritual home is, actually, a masterstroke - and may get big brains there who otherwise would not come (though notably not Joe Biden, alongside whom UK PM Rishi Sunak first announced the initiative in June).

Sunak's vision is to postion the UK as a global leader in ensuring the safe development of rapidly advancing AI technology, hoping that it will become the intellectual and geographical home of AI regulation. The summit, scheduled for November 1 and 2, will bring together tech executives, government officials, and academics to discuss and mitigate the potential risks of AI.

The agenda is likely to cover hot-button issues like preventing the use of AI in spreading election misinformation and its application in warfare. As Sunak puts it, "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."

The challenge lies in controlling the potential negative consequences of AI without stifling innovation. To address this, the UK has chosen to divide regulatory responsibility for AI among bodies overseeing competition, human rights, and health and safety, rather than creating a new dedicated entity.

Tech entrepreneur Matt Clifford and former senior diplomat Jonathan Black have been appointed to lead preparations for the summit. This move aligns with the call from the Group of Seven (G7) economies for the adoption of standards to create trustworthy AI.

So, buckle up! As we step into the future of AI, we're doing it with a nod to the past, right where the transformative technologies of yesteryears made history.

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