Scotland’s innovation minister has said the decision to omit the devolved nations from the UK Government’s AI Safety Summit is ‘disappointing’.

Richard Lochhead said Scotland’s interests and priorities in respect of the technology need to be “taken into account”.

The AI Safety Summit is taking place at the wartime codebreaking centre, Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing pioneered theoretical computer science.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is hosting the event today and tomorrow in Buckinghamshire, billed as a global first for AI safety.

The US, France, Singapore, Italy, Japan and China are among nations confirmed to attend the Bletchley Park Summit.

Representatives from The Alan Turing Institute, The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Ada Lovelace Institute are also among the groups confirmed to attend.

But Mr Lochhead said: “We are working to make Scotland a world leader in the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a way which is trustworthy, ethical and inclusive. 

“Our universities’ AI research and teaching is already world-class and we are determined to remain at the forefront of AI policy and technology development.

“While this summit appears to have a narrow focus on the long-term threat so-called frontier AI could pose to global security and doomsday scenarios, we should not lose sight of the more immediate risks such as misinformation and cybersecurity, nor the potential transformational benefits ethical AI can deliver to global society and the Scottish economy.

“I am disappointed the Scottish Government is not represented at the summit, despite requesting a place along with other devolved administrations, but I welcome assurances I was given at my meeting with the Secretary of State Michelle Donelan to discuss this issue where she committed to closely engage with the Scottish Government going forward. I hope this happens.”

The summit will bring together international governments, leading AI companies, civil society groups and experts in research. It aims to:

  • consider the risks of AI, especially at the frontier of development
  • discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action

In a speech last Thursday, the Prime Minister announced that a £100 million in new government investment will be targeted towards areas where rapid deployment of AI has the greatest potential to create transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases. The AI Life Sciences Accelerator Mission will capitalise on the UK’s unique strengths in secure health data and cutting-edge AI.