I’d tell world leaders: Your AI blueprint is already there
The tech world, and media, is currently abuzz with talk of British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s, first major global summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) safety. The summit, scheduled for November 1-2 at the iconic Bletchley Park, will bring together global AI tech experts and senior representatives from leading world nations.
The primary objective of the summit is to create a shared understanding of AI risks and devise strategies for global cooperation to mitigate these risks. The summit aims to "push hard" for the first-ever international statement about the nature of AI safeguards, stemming from the global community’s widespread acknowledgement of the need to understand and address the risks surrounding AI.
However, the event has sparked a debate in the tech industry. Supporters argue that it signifies the UK's commitment towards leading discussions on AI safety and regulation. Critics, on the other hand, question if the summit is truly necessary, given the fact that the EU AI Act is already leading the way,. Others suggest restrictions will inhibit the full benefits AI can deliver.
Ideagen’s view is that those who suggest regulation stifles AI innovation are misguided. The aim of regulation is to safeguard and protect, not to control. Guardrails help unlock innovation. The pharmaceutical and medical industry provides a rich field to learn from when it comes to successful regulation. Innovation continues apace, yet it operates in a regulatory framework that balances returning individuals to health, without putting them at additional risk. AI is not so different.
Professor Stuart Russell, often referred to as the Godfather of AI (and one of those invited by Sunak to attend the summit) makes a good point when he says that sandwich shops are more regulated than AI today. The food and beverage industry, aviation, nuclear power, life sciences, financial services, the construction industry are all globally interconnected, highly regulated industries - and the public take comfort in knowing that guard rails are in place to protect them.
AI is no different.
Managed badly, or without moral interventions, AI COULD pose a threat to human life, but when utilized correctly and safely, can change it for the better. Just as the regulation of medicine and medical devices is guided by global standards and best practice, AI needs a shared set of international standards that can both enable and protect in equal measure as the technology develops.
The summit's success is not guaranteed. As pointed out by Politico, the odds are not in Rishi's favor – not least because he must get the US and China talking on such matters (a topic that forms part of Vince Warrington’s cyber risk presentation in next week’s Ideagen Frontier summit. And, while you can understand why countries might want to develop their own capabilities in such a lucrative space, different regulatory controls would certainly slow down AI’s positive potential.
Whether Rishi Sunak's AI Summit marks a pivotal moment in AI safety discussions remains to be seen. One thing is certain, the vast majority of the world value safety above all other things. Regulation gives us clarity and confidence that we are protected. Globally agreed standards are the way forward and there are plenty of existing examples to prove this.