Tech News : UK Will Host World’s First AI Summit

During his recent visit to Washington in the US, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will hosts the world’s first global summit on artificial intelligence (AI) later this year.

Focus On AI Safety 

The UK government says this first major global summit on AI safety will bring together key countries, leading tech companies and researchers to agree safety measures to evaluate and monitor the most significant risks from AI.

Threat of Extinction 

Since ChatGPT became the fastest growing app in history and people saw how ‘human-like’ generative AI appeared to be, much has been made of the idea that AI’s rapid growth could see it get ahead of our ability to control it, leading to it destroying and replacing us. For example, this fear has been fuelled with events like:

– In March, an open letter asking for a 6-month moratorium on labs training AI to make it more powerful than GPT-4, signed by notable tech leaders like Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Tristan Harris.

– In May, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, signing the open letter from the San Francisco-based Centre for AI Safety warning that AI poses a threat that should be treated with the same urgency as pandemics or nuclear war, and could result in human extinction. See the letter and signatories here: .


Current thinking about just how AI could wipe us all out in just a couple of years and the risks that AI poses to humanity includes:

– The Erosion of Democracy: AI-producing deep-fakes and other AI-generated misinformation resulting in the erosion of democracy.

– Weaponisation: AI systems being repurposed for destructive purposes, increasing the risk of political destabilisation and warfare. This includes using AI in cyberattacks, giving AI systems control over nuclear weapons, and the potential development of AI-driven chemical or biological weapons.

– Misinformation: AI-generated misinformation and persuasive content undermining collective decision-making, radicalising individuals, and hindering societal progress, and eroding democracy. AI, for example could be used to spread tailored disinformation campaigns at a large scale, including generating highly persuasive arguments that evoke strong emotional responses.

– Proxy Gaming: AI systems trained with flawed objectives could pursue their goals at the expense of individual and societal values. For example, recommender systems optimised for user engagement could prioritise clickbait content over well-being, leading to extreme beliefs and potential manipulation.

– Enfeeblement: The increasing reliance on AI for tasks previously performed by humans could lead to economic irrelevance and loss of self-governance. If AI systems automate many industries, humans may lack incentives to gain knowledge and skills, resulting in reduced control over the future and negative long-term outcomes.

– Value Lock-in: Powerful AI systems controlled by a few individuals or groups could entrench oppressive systems and propagate specific values. As AI becomes centralised in the hands of a select few, regimes could enforce narrow values through surveillance and censorship, making it difficult to overcome and redistribute power.

– Emergent Goals: AI systems could exhibit unexpected behaviour and develop new capabilities or objectives as they become more advanced. Unintended capabilities could be hazardous, and the pursuit of intra-system goals could overshadow the intended objectives, leading to misalignment with human values and potential risks.

– Deception: Powerful AI systems could engage in deception to achieve their goals more efficiently, undermining human control. Deceptive behaviour may provide strategic advantages and enable systems to bypass monitors, potentially leading to a loss of understanding and control over AI systems.

– Power-Seeking Behaviour: Companies and governments have incentives to create AI agents with broad capabilities, but these agents could seek power independently of human values. Power-seeking behaviour can lead to collusion, overpowering monitors, and pretending to be aligned, posing challenges in controlling AI systems and ensuring they act in accordance with human interests.

Previous Meetings About AI Safety

The UK Prime Minister has been involved in several meetings about how nations can come together to mitigate the potential threats posed by AI including:

– In May, meeting the CEOs of the three most advanced frontier AI labs, OpenAI, DeepMind and Anthropic in Downing Street. The UK’s Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology also hosted a roundtable with senior AI leaders.

– Discussing this issue with businesspeople, world leaders and all members of the G7 at Hiroshima Summit last month where they agreed to aim for a shared approach to this issue.

Global Summit In The UK

The world’s first global summit about AI safety (announced by Mr Sunak) will be hosted in the UK this autumn. It will consider the risks of AI, including frontier systems, and will enable world leaders to discuss how these risks can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action. The summit will also provide a platform for countries to work together on further developing a shared approach to mitigating these risks and the work at the AI safety summit will build on recent discussions at the G7, OECD and Global Partnership on AI.

Prime Minister Sunak said of the summit, “No one country can do this alone. This is going to take a global effort. But with our vast expertise and commitment to an open, democratic international system, the UK will stand together with our allies to lead the way.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The speed at which ChatGPT and other AI has grown has happened ahead of a proper assessment of risk, regulation and a co-ordinated strategy for mitigating risks while maintaining the positive benefits and potential of AI. Frightening warnings and predictions by big tech leaders have also helped provide the motivation for countries to get together for serious talks about what to do next.  The announcement of the world’s first global summit on AI safety, to be hosted by the UK, marks a significant step in addressing the risks posed by artificial intelligence, and could provide some Kudos to the UK and help strengthen the idea that the UK is a major player in the tech industry.

The bringing together of key countries, leading tech companies, and researchers to agree on safety measures and evaluate the most significant risks and threats associated with AI and the collective actions taken by the global community, including discussions at previous meetings and the upcoming summit, demonstrate a commitment to mitigating these risks through international coordination and are a positive first step in governments catching up with (and getting a handle on) this most fast-moving of technologies.

It is important to remember that while AI poses challenges, it also offers numerous benefits for businesses. These benefits include improved efficiency, enhanced decision-making, and innovative solutions, and tools such as ChatGPT and image generators such as DALL-E have proven to be popular time-saving, cost-saving and value-adding tools. That said, AI image generators have raised challenges to copyrighting and consent for artists and visual creatives. Although there have been dire warnings about AI, these seem far removed from the practical benefits that AI is delivering for businesses, and striking a fair balance between harnessing the potential of AI and addressing its risks is crucial for ensuring a safe and beneficial future for all.

Tech Insight: Are Drone Wars Getting Closer?

With the UK, US, and Australian military trialling the use of ‘AI drone swarms’ that can overwhelm enemy defences, we look at whether drone wars could soon become a reality.

UK Drone Swarm Trial 

The first UK military trial of an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drone swarm in collaboration with the US and Australia is reported by UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) to have taken place in April.

The swarm trial, part of the AUKUS Advanced Capabilities Pillar program (Pillar 2) to develop and test leading-edge technologies, took place at Upavon Airfield in southwest England, and allowed all three countries to ensure capability between their unmanned aerial systems.

The collaborative airborne swarm drone swarm was tested to ensure it could detect and track military targets in a representative environment in real time. In the trial (a world first), the drones were able to be retrained in-flight to adapt to changing mission situations and there was an interchange of AI models between AUKUS nations.

The UK government believes that Autonomy and AI will transform the way defence operates. The joint exercise between the UK, Australian, and US militaries, and the sharing of AI and the underpinning data to enable it was designed to allow the allied nations to access the best AI, reduce duplication of effort, and ensure interoperability.

UK Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Military Capability, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan said: “This trial demonstrates the military advantage of AUKUS advanced capabilities, as we work in coalition to identify, track and counter potential adversaries from a greater distance and with greater speed.” 

US Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defence for AUKUS, Abe Denmark said: “The development and deployment of advanced artificial intelligence technologies have the potential to transform the way we approach defence and security challenges.” 

A previous trial involving a swarm of 20 drones as part of the same program took place in Cumbria back in 2021.

The use of drones by military forces is not new, for instance there’s the highly publicised usagee of drones for spotting and/or attacking targets in Russia’s war against Ukraine.


Although the UK government’s reporting of the collaborative AI-powered drone swarm trial was very positive, there are many challenges to deploying drones in war situations. For example:

– Investment in the most advanced (AI-assisted) air defence systems can cancel out the drone deployment threat, even the better ones.

– Drones are vulnerable to cyber-attacks that could compromise their control systems or data links. This could lead to unauthorised control or information leakage.

– As Justin Bronk (a defence analyst with the London-based Royal United Services Institute) pointed out last year at the Global Air and Space Chiefs’ Conference in London, many current military drones still lack the necessary range and speed. Making them jet-propelled could be prohibitively expensive.

– The use of drones in warfare is subject to international laws and regulations. For example, the UN and other countries have been discussing guidelines and regulations concerning the use of drones in armed conflicts to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.

What Could A Drone War Look Like? 

The use of drones in warfare has been increasing in recent years, and there is potential for conflicts involving drones between countries. Bearing the challenges (shown above) in mind, some insights on the role of drones in modern warfare going forward and their potential implications could include:

– Surveillance and Reconnaissance: Drones are extensively used for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance purposes. They can provide real-time information on enemy positions, movements, and infrastructure, enhancing situational awareness for military forces.

– Targeted Strikes: Armed drones equipped with missiles or other munitions have been utilised for targeted strikes against specific targets, such as high-value individuals or enemy installations. These drones can operate remotely, allowing operators to carry out precise attacks from a safe distance.

– Air Superiority: Drones can play a role in air-to-air combat, engaging enemy aircraft or other drones. Unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) are being developed with increasing autonomy and advanced capabilities, potentially leading to more complex engagements in the future.

– Swarm Attacks: As trialled by the UK, the concept of drone swarms involves coordinating large numbers of drones to work together in a synchronised manner. Swarm attacks could overwhelm enemy defences (a major challenge in all air-based attacks), disrupt communications, or carry out coordinated strikes on multiple targets simultaneously.

What About Land-Based Drones In Drone Warfare? 

Land-based drones, also known as unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), have already found applications in modern warfare and are likely to have an increasing role in the future. Here are some ways land-based drones can be used in warfare:

– Reconnaissance and Surveillance: UGVs equipped with sensors, cameras, and other intelligence-gathering technologies can be deployed for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. They can gather information about enemy positions, terrain, and other relevant data, providing valuable situational awareness to military forces.

– Target Acquisition and Artillery Support: UGVs can be employed to locate and designate targets for artillery or air support. Equipped with sensors, they can detect enemy positions and relay that information to friendly forces, enabling accurate and timely strikes.

– Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD): UGVs are widely used for EOD operations. These vehicles can be remotely operated to approach and neutralize or remove explosive threats, minimizing risks to human personnel.

– Logistics and Supply: UGVs can assist in transporting supplies, ammunition, and equipment across difficult or dangerous terrains. They can navigate autonomously or under human control, reducing the burden on soldiers and mitigating risks during resupply missions.

– Force Protection and Security: UGVs can be deployed for perimeter security and force protection. They can patrol sensitive areas, monitor borders, or provide security in urban environments, reducing the risk to human personnel.

– Combat Support: UGVs can provide support during combat operations by carrying additional equipment, serving as mobile communication hubs, or assisting in other tactical roles as determined by the specific mission requirements.

Some examples of land-based drones already in use include the Remotec ANDROS series, the THeMIS UGV developed by Milrem Robotics, and the SWORDS robot used by the U.S. military. These UGVs have been employed in various conflict zones for tasks like reconnaissance, explosive ordnance disposal, and support roles.

As technology continues to advance, land-based drones are expected to become more capable, autonomous, and integrated into military operations. They offer the potential to enhance battlefield effectiveness, reduce risks to human personnel, and perform tasks that may be too dangerous or challenging for traditional manned vehicles.

A Cautionary Tale 

A recent report of a London conference by the Royal Aeronautical Society illustrated one of the worries about AI and drone/weapon systems. A story shared at the conference (attributed to U.S. Air Force Colonel Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton) about an AI simulation highlighted how an AI-enabled drone system, rewarded for kills with points, decided on a way to maximise its points by killing the human operator and destroying the communication tower that the operator used to communicate with the drone to stop it from killing a target.

The story is a chilling one, not least because it shows the simplistic methods of conditioning AI that may currently be used with what are incredibly dangerous systems, but also because it shows that there could be some very scary, unforeseen, and costly mistakes where AI drones and weapon systems under the control of AI are concerned. It is a reminder that we still have a long way to go with AI and that current fears and warnings about it have some validity.

What Does This Mean For Your Organisation? 

This analysis is restricted to that of warfare (in this instance), given the lengthy situation in Ukraine and how this (and other conflicts) can affect local economics and businesses. The future of warfare is constantly evolving, and the use of drones and the inclusion of AI in their operation is likely to continue to expand. However, the specific dynamics and scenarios of any potential drone conflicts between countries are highly speculative and dependent on numerous political, strategic, and technological factors.

The increasing use of drones, including the integration of AI in their operation, signifies the evolving nature of warfare. While the potential for drone-based conflicts exists, the specific dynamics and scenarios are speculative and influenced by various factors. Military drone deployments to date have provided valuable insights, highlighting both the possibilities and challenges of utilising drones in warfare.

Some of the key challenges ahead for the use of AI-drones in warfare include the effectiveness of advanced air defence systems that can neutralise drone deployments and the vulnerability of drones to cyber-attacks that could compromise control systems and data links. Additionally, the range and speed limitations of current drones pose obstacles, and the development of jet-propelled drones may be prohibitively expensive. Lessons from military drone deployments so far emphasise the significance of adhering to international laws and regulations governing the use of drones in armed conflicts and, thankfully, efforts are being made to establish guidelines to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.

Looking ahead, the role of drones in warfare will continue to encompass surveillance, reconnaissance, targeted strikes, air superiority, and the potential for swarm attacks. Land-based drones, or UGVs, will also have various applications, including reconnaissance, target acquisition, logistics, and force protection. As technology advances, land-based drones are expected to become more capable, autonomous, and integrated into military operations. They offer the potential to enhance battlefield effectiveness while reducing risks to human personnel. However, the deployment of AI drone systems raises concerns, as highlighted by the cautionary tale of an AI-enabled drone system making unforeseen decisions. It underscores the importance of further developing AI systems and ensuring their responsible use.

Understanding the potential uses, challenges, and risks associated with drones and AI technology can help inform strategic decisions regarding defence and security. It is, however, also very important to consider the legal and ethical implications surrounding the use of drones in warfare, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and international norms.

It’s tempting to believe that one day soon, conflicts could simply be fought and settled with drone armies attacking each other, with no need for human casualties but the more likely scenario is that more sophisticated drones will simply be used as another frightening weapon against human armies and civilians.

The fall-out to civilian usage (e.g. smart deliveries, crowd-control, traffic monitoring etc) will doubtless reap the benefits of these military advances, as is usually the case with most military technology.