28 countries have signed the world’s first pact on global cooperation in artificial intelligence (AI) called the ‘Bletchley Declaration’. The agreement was signed at the AI Safety Summit 2023 hosted by the United Kingdom (UK). The central objective of the Bletchley Declaration is to address risks and responsibilities associated with AI in a comprehensive and collaborative manner, with a focus on fostering scientific cooperation.

Under the Bletchley Declaration on AI safety, 28 countries from across the globe including Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as the European Union, have agreed to the urgent need to understand and collectively manage potential risks through a new joint global effort to ensure AI is developed and deployed in a safe, responsible way for the benefit of the global community. Countries endorsing the Declaration include Brazil, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates. The declaration fulfils key summit objectives in establishing shared agreement and responsibility on the risks, opportunities and a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety and research, particularly through greater scientific collaboration.

The participating countries agreed that substantial risks may arise from potential intentional misuse or unintended issues of control of frontier AI, with particular concern caused by cybersecurity, biotechnology and disinformation risks. The declaration sets out an agreement that there is potential for serious, even catastrophic, harm, either deliberate or unintentional, stemming from the most significant capabilities of these AI models. Countries also noted the risks beyond frontier AI, including bias and privacy.

Recognising the need to deepen the understanding of risks and capabilities that are not fully understood, attendees have also agreed to work together to support a network of scientific research on frontier AI safety. This builds on the UK government’s announcement for the UK to establish the world’s first AI Safety Institute and complement existing international efforts including at the G7, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Council of Europe, United Nations (UN) and the Global Partnership on AI. This will ensure the best available scientific research can be used to create an evidence base for managing the risks whilst unlocking the benefits of the technology, including through the UK’s AI Safety Institute which will look at the range of risks posed by AI. The declaration also acknowledges that those developing these unusually powerful and potentially dangerous frontier AI capabilities have a particular responsibility for ensuring the safety of these systems, including by implementing systems to test them and other appropriate measures.

The declaration details that the risks are best addressed through international cooperation. As part of agreeing on a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety, The Republic of Korea has agreed to co-host a mini-virtual summit on AI in the next six months. France will then host the next in-person summit a year from now. Further details on these events will be confirmed in due course. This will ensure an enduring legacy from the summit and continued international action to tackle AI risks, including informing national and international risk-based policies across these countries.

Commenting on the development, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “This is a landmark achievement that sees the world’s greatest AI powers agree on the urgency behind understanding the risks of AI – helping ensure the long-term future of our children and grandchildren. Under the UK’s leadership, more than 25 countries at the AI Safety Summit have stated a shared responsibility to address AI risks and take forward vital international collaboration on frontier AI safety and research. The UK is once again leading the world at the forefront of this new technological frontier by kick-starting this conversation, which will see us work together to make AI safe and realise all its benefits for generations to come.”