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State of the Union: AI summit and Balkan EU push

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán meet in China on October 17, 2023.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán meet in China on October 17, 2023. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Stefan Grobe
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This week, Bletchley Park made history again as host of the world’s first Artificial Intelligence Safety Summit.

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The historic site between London and Birmingham is regarded as one of the birthplaces of computer science and is famous for its crucial role in World War II codebreaking.

It was there that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gathered big-name technology executives and global leaders to discuss the challenges and many unknowns presented by the rapid advancement of AI.

In other words, a perfect setting for what Sunak compared to an existential threat to humanity as we know it.

“There's a debate about this topic. People in the industry themselves don't agree, and we can't be certain, but there is a case to believe that it may pose risks on a scale like pandemics and nuclear war," he said.

"And that's why, as leaders, we have a responsibility to act, to take the steps to protect people. And that's exactly what we're doing.”

Participants, including, remarkably, the US, China and the EU, signed the Bletchley Declaration that aims to tackle the risks of so-called frontier AI language models developed by companies such as OpenAI.

That technology has the potential for serious, even catastrophic harm, according to the signatories.

Balkan momentum

Serious harm - that is what could befall some Balkan candidate countries if they do not step up efforts to get in line with the EU in order to gain membership.

That was the message delivered by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her trip to the region this week.

A major country that needed this reminder was Serbia, as Belgrade is still unwilling to recognise Kosovo and pass sanctions against Russia.

“So, my message is basically two-fold, let’s do the homework, please do your homework, and let’s get ready and let's seize the moment to really have a substantial step forward in the enlargement process," von der Leyen said

Not everybody is happy with the prospect of Serbia and Kosovo joining the EU, as both have not fully subscribed to democratic principles yet.

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