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AI SAFETY SUMMIT: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT WAS AGREED?
What is the AI Safety Summit?
We are currently witnessing one of the biggest technical revolutions that is bound to fundamentally alter how we work and live.
With Artificial Intelligence’s rapid advancement, we are presented with many new opportunities that will transform almost every aspect of our economy and society. However, we will also potentially discover plenty of unknown risks to keep regulators on their toes. For that reason, the Prime Minister has recently launched the new AI Safety Institute.
This is the world’s newest hub, and its goal is to help spur international collaboration on the safe development of AI while also putting the UK in a neutral global position between power blocks such as the US, China, and the EU.
In hopes of cementing the UK’s position as a world leader in AI safety, the AI Safety Institute is tasked with ensuring any emerging types of AI have been tested and a shared scientific and evidence-based understanding of the risks is built. This includes exploring all the risks, from social harms like bias and misinformation to the most unlikely but extreme risk, such as humanity losing control of AI completely.
The Summit’s objectives
Concerning the next step in achieving world leader status in AI safety, the UK held the first AI safety summit to protect populaces from the potential risks of frontier AI and, in turn, attempt to lay the grounds for trust in AI.
The Summit also seeks to discover new ways of harnessing the potential opportunities AI presents us with by bringing together leading AI nations such as the US and China, technology companies, well-known CEOs like Elon Musk, researchers, and civil society groups to turbocharge action on the safe and responsible development of frontier AI around the world.
What was agreed upon at the Summit?
Across two days, 1st and 2nd November 2023, the AI world descended to Bletchley Park, which hosted top-secret codebreakers during WWII, for the AI Safety Summit.
To fully embrace the extraordinary opportunities of artificial intelligence, we must grip and tackle the risks to ensure it develops safely in the years ahead, says Rushi Sunak before the first AI Safety Summit. Its main objectives, therefore, were discussing risks relating to global safety from frontier AI misuse, unpredictable advances in frontier AI capability, loss of control over frontier AI, and integrating frontier AI into society.
The outcome of the Summit was reportedly positive. The UK, the US and China seem to have aligned their views regarding AI safety and are on board with regulating it.
Altogether, twenty-eight countries from across the globe, including the UK, the US and the EU, signed the landmark Bletchley Declaration, an agreement focused on establishing the risks and opportunities through greater scientific collaboration.
This agreement represents their commitment and desire to collaborate on solving the potential and current issues by agreeing on the shared approach to AI’s use to be human-centric, trustworthy, and responsible.
What’s the stance on regulation?
The consensus seems that regulation is not only a welcome next step but a downright necessity as AI is developing faster than any other technology, and therefore, regulators need to act swiftly.
Professor Yoshua Bengio, a computer scientist and one of the leading experts in artificial intelligence, noted the need for a treaty regulating AI sooner rather than later, considering AI’s rapid advancement. Basic principles of safety are not only welcome but necessary.
His opinion is supported by the Tesla, Space X and X owner, Elon Musk, who also agrees regulation is essential even if it could slow down progress in the short term, as in the long term, regulatory controls won’t hinder innovation but instead aid it.
What would the companies need to do?
As we are in a unique situation where there is potentially something more intelligent than us, and this is believed to be one of the existential risks that we are facing with AI and one of the more serious ones at that, regulators will most likely expect companies to demonstrate the Artificial Intelligence technology they are developing or deploying will be safe just as they would do with anything else that brings significant risks to the people using it.
To accomplish that, the correct regulation and risk management processes are vital in using AI as a positive force in our lives, economy and society.
Article written by Natalia Mileva
THE PROCUREMENT ACT 2023
Public procurement is an essential source of income for many, which is not surprising considering the government, in 2019/2020 alone, spent £295.5 billion on public procurement, an estimated third of the public sector spending budget. As a result, more private contractors are capitalising on this income stream.
Increased interest and a constantly evolving procurement landscape mean enhanced legislative measures are required to safeguard fair processes, hence the enactment of the Procurement Act 2023.
The PA 2023 is the culmination of two years of consultations following Brexit. It received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023 with a ‘go live’ date of October 2024, pending the outcome of secondary legislation consultations.
The public procurement process
It is a tendering process, a contract opportunity exercised by the government, public sector (such as local authorities and the NHS) and some utility bodies (energy and water companies, for example) for the purchase of goods, services or works from the sector managed by individuals and companies for profit, that is, the private sector.
Examples of public procurement include purchasing office supplies for a police station, providing utility services to the general public, and public authority construction works, such as the building of roads and hospitals.
When a public sector tender is announced, private suppliers compete against predetermined criteria set by the public body. In support of fair competition, all participants must conform to a strict set of public contract regulatory controls, currently primarily administered by the EU, in better serving the ultimate beneficiaries, that is, the public. Different tendering processes are used per project specificities, such as the Open Procedure, Restricted Procedure and Innovative Partnership.
Adequate legislation, specially tailored to the needs and demands of the UK’s public spending requirements and procurement activities, is of critical importance, hence the introduction of PA 2023, with the Crown Commercial Service (a bureau of the Cabinet Office) continuing its pivotal role as the developer and executor of its measures.
The Act sets in motion the critical overhaul of the structure of public procurement and the legislation that governs it, which means that the UK will have its own bespoke rules governing public procurement, a step away from the EU Directives partially governing this sector.
For clarity, the directly instituted UK regulations are the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCRs), Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 (UCRs), Concessions Contracts Regulations 2016 (CCRs), and the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 (DSPCRs).
The EU laws include Directive 2014/24/EU (public procurement), Directive 2014/23/EU (award of concession contracts) and Directive 20114/25/EU (procurement by entities in the energy, postal services, transport and water sectors).
*Except for the governance of DSPCRs, Scotland has separate public procurement legislation from the rest of the UK.
Some of the critical reforms as per PA 2023 include:
- A new tendering procedure, the Competitive Flexible Procedure, may be utilised with the Open Procedure. This means increased flexibility for privy parties as they will be afforded additional opportunities to construct their contracts to reflect proportionality and fairness while ensuring clarity in each tender.
- The introduction of newly formed discretionary and mandatory grounds for disbarment from a tender process due to severe breaches, coupled with a register of excluded companies.
– The discretionary grounds for exclusion include the non or poor performance of a contract and improper conduct at any stage or throughout the tender process, all of which apply to sub-contractors or connected parties.
- The supplementation of ‘safe harbours’ allows for modifying an existing contract without challenge or consequences.
- The addition of new grounds for the urgent award of contracts, including preserving life, defence technological developments and the actualisation of a known risk.
- Augmented capabilities to directly award contracts in necessary circumstances, such as protecting human, animal or plant life and maintaining public safety or order.
Impact on the legal sector
The six-month transition or warning period for procurement practitioners before the Act’s enactment in October 2024 gives ample time to familiarise themselves and their clients with the intricacies and application of the Act, as its enactment will repeal all EU-derived laws, as well as the PCRs and CCRs.
It is important to note that under PCR 2015, there are some service contract exclusions (from procurement rules) concerning the legal sector, such as arbitration, conciliation and legal services. These permissible derogations will continue under the new Act.
Also, the outcome of two consultations on the secondary legislation required for the Act’s implementation may further amend the Act before its ‘live’ date.
Irrespective of further changes, the Act’s construct, as it currently stands, is the most significant shakeup of the public procurement landscape and will likely remain so for many years to come.