17 May 2024

techUK hosts pre-AI Seoul Summit industry engagement with Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP

Ahead of the AI Seoul Summit, on 14 May 2024 techUK welcomed Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP at an industry event focused on bringing different voices to discuss their expectations and hopes for the upcoming AI Seoul Summit.

With over 50 senior representatives from businesses across the techUK membership, the event served as a platform for direct engagement with the UK Government, setting the stage for the forthcoming global summit set to take place in Seoul on May 21-22.

Secretary of State Michelle Donelan MP delivered the opening remarks, praising the UK’s strong position in AI thanks to the combination of the UK’s research in world-leading universities, a culture of enterprise and innovation among businesses, and the government’s commitment to taking the lead on AI.

She emphasised her desire for the conversations during the techUK event to shape the government’s approach to the AI Seoul Summit, which will widen the focus from primarily safety, to cover the three critical ingredients needed to make a global success of AI: safety, innovation and inclusion.

Building on the success of the AI Safety Summit in November last year, the Secretary of State recognised the importance of bringing countries and leaders from industry, civil society and academia to move forward the discussion on AI safety. 

Michelle Donelan MP highlighted the government’s wish to use the AI Seoul Summit to strengthen international consensus and build on agreements made at Bletchley last November, through a format that encourages an open and frank conversation on both the risks and opportunities of frontier AI.

She was then joined on stage for a panel discussion by Hetan Shah, Chief Executive, The British Academy; Francine Bennett, Interim Director, Ada Lovelace Institute; Helen Margetts OBE, Director of the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Institute, and Professor of Society and the Internet at the University of Oxford; and Antony Walker, Deputy CEO, techUK.

Panellists offered their perspectives on AI safety, reflecting on developments since the Bletchley Summit, emphasising the need for international cohesion in AI safety efforts, underscoring the role of inclusion in shaping AI policy, and the critical intersection of AI safety and cybersecurity.

Further discussions also highlighted the AI Safety Institute’s work as a potential model for other countries, suggesting the establishment of specialised roles or areas of expertise for each institute within a global network of institutes.

Notable announcements at the AI Seoul Summit, discussed during the panel, will include the release of The State of Science report, a project started at Bletchley, dedicated to compiling existing AI Safety research. This report will aim to identify overlaps and gaps in the field, guiding future research efforts.

The event then opened the floor to contributions from attendees, representing companies from all aspects of the AI supply chain, to facilitate industry participation, ensuring that stakeholders shared questions and comments to the panel for feedback and further considerations by DSIT for the AI Seoul Summit.

Delegates raised questions on the government's plans across a number of themes, from encouraging that examples of good practice from businesses are showcased, building consumer trust, ensuring that businesses can be confident in the AI systems they are deploying to how regulation can be used to encourage and guide innovation.

techUK members highlighted the imperative of expanding the conversation. They stressed the necessity of broadening AI discussions beyond advanced model safety to tackle cross-border issues like mutual recognition of standards and regulatory regimes.

The AI Safety Summit held at Bletchley Park in November 2023 marked a pivotal moment not just for the UK, but for the global digital landscape. Recognising the importance of international collaboration in the responsible development and adoption of AI, last year's Summit underscored the significance of collaborative efforts. Against this backdrop, the upcoming AI Seoul Summit is of key importance.

Antony Walker

Deputy CEO of techUK

We are delighted to once again bring together techUK members with the Secretary of State for Science, Technology, and Innovation to foster a collaborative environment bridging government and the tech industry. Our members are uniquely positioned to provide invaluable insights, empowering governments to steer AI development and deployment ethically and securely. We trust that today's discussions have laid a solid foundation for the UK's constructive engagement at the AI Seoul Summit.

Antony Walker

Deputy CEO of techUK

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