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Global leaders and industry professionals brought together at ground-breaking event

Bletchley Park, the historic site regarded as one of the birthplaces of computer science, and renowned for its pivotal role in World War Two codebreaking, makes history once again this week by hosting the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Summit.


Bletchley Park, the historic site regarded as one of the birthplaces of computer science, and renowned for its pivotal role in World War Two codebreaking, makes history once again this week by hosting the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Summit.

This ground-breaking event will bring together industry professionals and global leaders to discuss the critical topic of AI safety and ethics. Representatives from twenty-seven countries will attend, including US Vice President, Kamala Harris, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, as well as leading figures from the world of computing, such as Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO and owner of the social media site X.

Taking place today and tomorrow (1 and 2 November 2023), the UK Government aims to lead on the global collaboration needed to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the rapid advancement of AI technology.

Bletchley Park (BP), with its rich history of innovation and problem-solving, is the perfect setting for this landmark event, reflecting the UK’s proud tradition of being at the frontier of new technology advancements. In preparation for the event, temporary structures have been built to house the Summit’s attendees and the iconic Mansion has benefitted from vital maintenance and conservation work.

Considered a birthplace of modern computing, due to both the technological innovations and achievements of people that took place here during World War Two, the site was the place where the world’s first semi-programmable computers were deployed, such as the Colossus used to defeat the Nazis.

Bletchley Park Codebreaker Alan Turing was one of the computing pioneers and leading minds who worked here.  A pioneering mathematician who is often considered ‘the father of computer science’, his powerful mind allowed him to break conceptual ground in the fields of both cryptography at (BP) and computing (in his academic work).

Other notable BP codebreakers such as Max Newman, Jack Good and Donald Michie wrote extensively about AI/intelligent machines in their post-BP careers.  Ten Colossi, each weighing around a ton, were built and used by Bletchley Park to attack the German cipher produced by the Lorenz machines.

 “We are thrilled to host the world’s first AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park,” said Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust. “As a site that has witnessed the power of human intelligence, emerging technology and collaboration, we recognise the importance of ensuring that AI technology is developed and deployed in a safe and ethical manner.

“We are incredibly excited to provide the stage for discussions on global safety standards, which will help everyone manage and monitor the risks of artificial intelligence.  

“It is also a huge opportunity to showcase our museum and visitor attraction to tech and country leaders as well as the international media, who are here to report on the event.” 

Bletchley Park is showcasing historic items from its collection relating to computing in the temporary structures built on-site, alongside items from The National Museum of Computing, The National Archives, Kings College Cambridge, and the British Library. These include an Enigma machine, rare surviving fragments from Colossus machines that were mostly destroyed post-war, plus other items related to encryption and decryption of wartime communications.

Parts of the museum are open to offer guests of the Summit a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the incredible stories of those who worked here.

Just as the Codebreakers of Bletchley Park played a crucial role in shaping the outcome of World War II, the AI Safety Summit aims to shape the future of AI technology by fostering collaboration and promoting responsible practices.

Once again Bletchley Park will take centre stage as the international community comes together to agree on important guardrails, which ensure the opportunities of AI can be realised, and its risks safely managed.

Bletchley Park is working closely with partners including Thames Valley Police, Milton Keynes Council and the government to ensure the event creates minimal disruption to the local community.