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The relationship to artificial intelligence is not yet part of any wider social discourse. And it should probably stay that way. Nothing would be more unfortunate than if there were two camps on this issue again, cemented in their opinions, similar to, say, in the case of vaccination against covid, gay marriage or similar polarizing topics. Will artificial intelligence save humanity by solving some of the fundamental problems (such as climate change), or will it, on the contrary, hasten the end of the world?
I have a suggestion: let’s not answer this question. And the participants of the international summit on AI, which was convened by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the symbolic backdrop of Bletchley Park, should also avoid it. It takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Bletchley Park was used to break German codes during World War II. One of the scientists who worked here was Alan Turing, a genius with a tragic fate. We remember him, among other things, in connection with the “Turing Test”, which is now an outdated but still mentioned and quoted “benchmark” of artificial intelligence.
Rishi Sunak chose this symbolic location because he wants Britain to establish itself as a major player in AI research and deployment. Better said, it is an effort to get a bronze medal behind the USA and China in the national race.
At the moment, America plays without a doubt, and not so much America as California, or even just San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Virtually everything important that we know about in AI happens here. Actually, on a few tens of square kilometers.
Well, apparently everything important takes place in China, which we do not know about in the field of AI, even if we suspect something.
The US administration has plenty of other concerns than artificial intelligence, and it couldn’t have shown that better than by putting the otherwise completely “invisible” Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of AI. She will also represent Washington at the British summit.
Communist China, on the other hand, probably correctly understood that AI can be the next battlefield where world domination will be played out. The less they want to argue with the West about how to approach artificial intelligence and how to regulate it. She is satisfied with the current state. It is the dark horse of the race, and if the West agrees to some regulation and restriction, the Chinese will take it as their chance and competitive advantage.
The position of the European Union in this matter is strange – and somewhat depressing. Yes, its officials “defined AI as their priority,” even before the current generative AI boom began. And exactly in the spirit of absurd dramas, this means that practically nothing important is happening in this field in the EU.
The EU is perhaps the furthest in some kind of consistent capture of AI in legislation. We are talking about the AI Act, which we know so far in its first version. It will continue to be discussed and perhaps even approved this year. But the question is whether it would not be better to have top companies and research centers in the EU than a remarkable law. By the way, if it is accepted in its current form, we will never have any of those top institutions here.
Already today, the EU is an area that many companies avoid due to fear of problems with the authorities. That’s why we don’t even have a number of services and applications available here. We are talking about many AI services from Google or the top language model Claude 2 from Anthropic, which cannot be used “directly” in Europe.
This is what Europe is good at: writing laws and political negotiation. So, unlike the USA and China, paradoxically – as the weakest player – the Union will have top representation at Bletchley Park: the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will come, and Czech European Commissioner Věra Jourová is also on the invite list. But that also ends the Czech participation. I received a reply from the Straka Academy that the Czech Republic was not among those invited.
He may end up shuffling the entire summit into oblivion as a completely useless event. It is not very likely that we will see something fundamental and exciting. For Rishi Sunak, it is important that the US and China meet at the same table in Britain. But it can be doubted that Kamala Harris would arrange something surprising. There would be more chances if America was represented directly by ChatGPT.
Rishi Sunak’s aim is also to show that Brexit has some advantages alongside a long list of disadvantages – and boosting innovation is one of them. Ultimately, that seems to be the sole purpose of the summit: to showcase Britain as a place where AI research and business will thrive. And where there is more democracy and better air than in China.
The biggest star will probably be Elon Musk, as some British sources revealed on Monday. Which is another guarantee that nothing important will be agreed upon. But it will be fun.