Government ministers from around the globe gathered today for the world’s first-ever summit on artificial intelligence (AI) safety, held at Bletchley Park, the historic site where Alan Turing cracked the Enigma code during World War II. King Charles of England and Wales also delivered remarks, underscoring the urgency of ensuring AI’s safe and ethical development.

In her opening address, UK Secretary of State for Science Michelle Donelan emphasized that AI holds immense potential to benefit humanity, from curing diseases to combating climate change. However, uncontrolled advances could also concentrate power, undermine democracy, and even potentially lead to existential threats if systems surpass human abilities.

Donelan stressed the need for collaboration between nations, developers, and civil society to steer AI’s trajectory towards good. She announced the summit would produce a chair summary of actions different groups must take, building on the Bletchley Declaration agreed to earlier that commits nations to mitigate AI risks.

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo highlighted new voluntary commitments from US AI companies to ensure models are safe and secure. She also announced the US will be launching its own AI Safety Institute. Raimondo called for global coordination, stating, “We must search for global solutions to global problems.”

In a unique video address, King Charles noted the “clear imperative” to keep “rapidly advancing AI technology safe and secure.” He emphasized the need for international collaboration with great urgency to address the risks, comparing it to efforts to tackle climate change. The King stated it is incumbent on those in positions of responsibility to ensure AI benefits all of humanity.

Ian Hogarth, Chair of the UK’s AI Task Force, noted the small community of experts developing the most powerful AI models. He said while optimistic about AI’s potential, uncontrolled advances could outpace safeguards. Hogarth stressed the need to ground discussions in empiricism and called the summit a brief moment to shape AI’s trajectory.

The summit demonstrates growing alarm from world leaders about revolutionary advances in AI. With King Charles adding his voice, it is clear mitigating risks has become an urgent priority at the highest levels. The coming days will show whether enough concrete steps are taken to steer this powerful technology toward benefitting humankind.

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