Govts, tech firms vow to cooperate against AI risks at summit

Published May 23, 2024
SOUTH Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo delivers a speech during the opening of the AI Global Forum on the sidelines of the AI summit, on Wednesday.—AFP
SOUTH Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo delivers a speech during the opening of the AI Global Forum on the sidelines of the AI summit, on Wednesday.—AFP

SEOUL: More than a dozen countries and some of the world’s biggest tech firms pledged on Wednesday to cooperate against the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, including its ability to dodge human control, as they wrapped up a global summit in Seoul.

AI safety was front and centre of the agenda at the two-day gathering. In the latest declaration, more than two dozen countries including the United States and France agreed to work together against threats from cutting-edge AI, including “severe risks”.

Such risks could include an AI system helping “non-state actors in advancing the development, production, acquisition or use of chemical or biological weapons”, said a joint statement from the nations. These dangers also include an AI model that could potentially “evade human oversight, including through safeguard circumvention, manipulation and deception, or autonomous replication and adaptation”, they added.

The ministers’ statement followed a commitment on Tuesday by some of the biggest AI companies, including ChatGPT maker OpenAI and Google DeepMind, to share how they assess the risks of their tech, including what is considered “intolerable”.

The 16 tech firms also committed to not deploying a system where they cannot keep risks under those limits. The Seoul summit, co-hosted by South Korea and Britain, was organised to build on the consensus reached at the inaugural AI safety summit last year.

“As the pace of AI development accelerates, we must match that speed... if we are to grip the risks,” UK technology secretary Michelle Donelan said.

“Simultaneously, we must turn our attention to risk mitigation outside these models, ensuring that society as a whole becomes resilient to the risks posed by AI.” The summit also saw a separate commitment — the so-called Seoul AI Business Pledge — from a group of tech companies including South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and US titan IBM, to develop AI responsibly.

AI is “a tool in the hands of humans. And now is our moment to decide how we’re going to use it as a society, as companies, as governments,” Christina Montgomery, IBM’s Chief Privacy and Trust Officer, said on the sidelines of the summit.

“Anything can be misused, including AI technology,” she added. “We need to put guardrails in place, we need to put protections in place, we need to think about how we’re going to use it in the future.”

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024

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