Picture by Kirsty O'Connor / No 10 Downing Street

Rishi Sunak declares achievements of AI summit ‘will tip the balance in favour of humanity’

The prime minister hailed the achievements of the Bletchley Park AI Summit today, saying the progress made will “tip the balance in favour of humanity”.

At a press conference marking the end of the summit’s work, Rishi Sunak argued it had succeeded in increasing knowledge of the “risks” of AI. 

He explained: “We analysed the latest available evidence on everything from social harms to things like bias and misinformation to the risk of misuse by bad actors, through to the most extreme risks of even losing control of AI completely.

“And yesterday we agreed and published the first ever international statement about the nature of all of those risks. It was signed by every single nation represented by this summit, covering all continents across the globe and including the United States and China”.

He defended the decision to invite China to the summit, saying: “A serious strategy for AI safety has to begin with engaging all the world’s leading AI powers and all of them have signed the Bletchley Park communique”.

He repeated his view that the so-called Bletchley Park declaration is a “landmark achievement”. 

At the summit, twenty-eight governments signed up to the declaration. It saw the attending countries agree to work together on AI safety research.

The declaration includes the sentence: “We welcome the international community’s efforts so far to cooperate on AI to promote inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and innovation, to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to foster public trust and confidence in AI systems to fully realise their potential.”

The declaration also saw world leaders agree “to sustain an inclusive global dialogue that engages existing international fora and other relevant initiatives and contributes in an open manner to broader international discussions, and to continue research on frontier AI safety to ensure that the benefits of the technology can be harnessed responsibly for good and for all. 

“We look forward to meeting again in 2024”, it closed. 

Ending his press conference this afternoon, Sunak quoted Stephen Hawking: “The late Stephen Hawking once said ‘AI is likely to be the best or worst thing to happen to humanity”, the PM said. 

“If we can sustain the collaboration that we have fostered over these last two days, I profoundly believe that we can make it the best. Because safely harnessing this technology could eclipse anything we have ever known.

“And if in time history proves that today we began to seize that prize, then we will have written a new chapter worthy of its place in the story of Bletchley Park, and more importantly bequeath an extraordinary legacy of hope for our children and generations to come.”

This evening, Rishi Sunak will meet Elon Musk, who has attracted controversy over his ownership of X (formerly Twitter).

Musk, who has praised the Sunak for holding the summit, will hold an online conversation with the PM after the conference finishes.

During the summit, the Tesla founder said: “I think AI is one of the biggest threats. We have for the first time the situation where we have something that is going to be far smarter than the smartest human.

He added: “It’s not clear to me if we can control such a thing, but I think we can aspire to guide it in a direction that’s beneficial to humanity.”

During his press conference, the prime minister dodged a question about why his conversation with Musk will not be live-streamed. 

He said he wanted to focus on the achievements of the wider summit rather than “one personality”.  

He also defended his decision to host Musk in No 10, saying: “He’s an entrepreneur, has developed AI companies and as one of the leading actors in AI. It’s important that he was in this summit and I’m delighted that he was attending and participating yesterday”.

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