World leaders focus on new AI agreement at Seoul summit

Discussion on AI regulation has shifted from longer-term doomsday scenarios to "practical concerns".

Discussion on AI regulation has shifted from longer-term doomsday scenarios to "practical concerns". Photo: AP

Global leaders and officials taking part in an AI summit being hosted by South Korea and the UK are expected to strike new agreements focused on how to practically regulate the rapidly evolving technology.

The artificial intelligence (AI) summit in Seoul this week aims to build on a broad agreement at the first conference held in the United Kingdom six months ago and to better address a wider array of risks.

At the November summit, Tesla’s Elon Musk and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman mingled with some of their fiercest critics, while China co-signed the “Bletchley Declaration” on collectively managing AI risks alongside the United States and others.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will oversee a virtual summit later on Tuesday followed by a ministerial session on Wednesday.

This week’s summit will address “building… on the commitment from the companies, also looking at how the (AI safety) institutes will work together”, UK Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan told Reuters on Tuesday.

Since November, discussion on AI regulation has shifted from longer-term doomsday scenarios to “practical concerns” such as how to use AI in areas such as medicine or finance, said Aidan Gomez, co-founder of large language model firm Cohere.

Industry participants wanted AI regulation that would give clarity and security on where the companies should invest, while avoiding entrenching big tech, Gomez said.

With countries such as the UK and US establishing state-backed AI Safety Institutes for evaluating AI models and others expected to follow suit, AI firms are also concerned about the interoperability between jurisdictions, analysts said.

Representatives of the G7 major democracies countries were expected to take part in the virtual summit, while Singapore and Australia were also invited, a South Korean presidential official said.

China would not take part in the virtual summit but was expected to attend Wednesday’s in-person ministerial session, the official said.

The South Korean government declined to confirm which industry leaders would take part in the summit, although Musk responded to Yoon’s posting on the upcoming summit on his social media platform X.

“Looking forward to this,” he said in a post.


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