Letter to Rishi Sunak: AI Summit is dominated by Big Tech and a ‘missed opportunity’

  • More than 100 UK and international organisations, experts and campaigners sign open letter to Rishi Sunak
  • Groups warn that the “communities and workers most affected by AI have been marginalised by the Summit.”
  • Closed door’ event is dominated by Big Tech and overly focused on speculative risks instead of AI threats “in the here and now”
  • Signatories to letter include leading human rights organisations, trade union bodies, tech orgs, leading academics and experts on AI

In an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the groups warn that the “communities and workers most affected by AI have been marginalised by the Summit” while a select few corporations seek to shape the rules.

The letter has been coordinated by the TUC, Connected by Data and Open Rights Group and is released ahead of the official AI Summit at Bletchley Park on 1 and 2 November.

The full letter and signatories can be found here and include:

  • Major and international trade union confederations – such as the TUC, AFL-CIO, European Trade Union Confederation, International Trade Union Confederation representing tens of millions of workers worldwide
  • International and UK human rights orgs – such as Amnesty International, Liberty, Article 19, Privacy International, Access Now
  • Domestic and international civil society organisations – such as Connected by Data, Open Rights Group, 5 Rights, Consumers International
  • Tech community voices – such as Mozilla, AI Now Institute and individuals associated to the AI Council, Alan Turing Institute & British Computing Society
  • Leading international academics, experts, members of the House of Lords

Highlighting the exclusion of civil society from the Summit, the letter says:

Your ‘Global Summit on AI Safety’ seeks to tackle the transformational risks and benefits of AI, acknowledging that AI “will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Yet the communities and workers most affected by AI have been marginalised by the Summit.

The involvement of civil society organisations that bring a diversity of expertise and perspectives has been selective and limited. This is a missed opportunity.

Open Rights Group Policy Manager for Data Rights and Privacy, Abby Burke said: 

“The government has bungled what could have been an opportunity for real global AI leadership due to the Summit’s limited scope and invitees. The agenda’s focus on future, apocalyptic risks belies the fact that government bodies and institutions in the UK are already deploying AI and automated decision-making in ways that are exposing citizens to error and bias on a massive scale. 

It’s extremely concerning that the government has excluded those who are experiencing harms and other critical expert and activist voices from its Summit, allowing businesses who create and profit from AI systems to set the UK’s agenda.

The organisations and individuals who signed this letter represent the interests of millions of people both across the UK and more globally. We hope the government heeds this call to democratise the future of AI.”

Senior Campaigns and Policy Officer for Connected by Data Adam Cantwell-Corn said: 

“The open letter is a powerful, diverse and international challenge to the unacceptable domination of AI policy by narrow interests”.

AI must be shaped in the interests of the wider public. This means ensuring that a range of expertise, perspectives and communities have an equal seat at the table. The Summit demonstrates a failure to do this.

Beyond the Summit, AI policy making needs a re-think – domestically and internationally – to steer these transformative technologies in a democratic and socially useful direction.”

TUC Assistant General Secretary Kate Bell said:

“It is hugely disappointing that unions and wider civil society have been denied proper representation at this Summit.

AI is already making life-changing decisions – like how we work, how we’re hired and who gets fired. But working people have yet to be given a seat at the table.  

This event was an opportunity to bring together a wide range of voices to discuss how we deal with immediate threats and make sure AI benefits all. It shouldn’t just be tech bros and politicians who get to shape the future of AI.”

OPen letter on the ai safety summit

Over 100 signatories send a warning to the UK Prime Minister.

Read in full

Notes to editors:

The letter has been coordinated by the TUC, Connected by Data and Open Rights Group. 

Each organisation will be speaking at the AI and Society Forum taking place at the Wellcome Collection, London on Tuesday 31st October, NW1 2BE. 

The list of signatories and the open letter can be found here: https://ai-summit-open-letter.info/

About Open Rights Group: Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based campaigning organisation working to protect digital rights. We exist to promote rights like privacy and free expression online and to challenge threats to our rights through public campaigns, media commentary, legal action, and policy interventions. 

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

About Connected by Data:Connected by Data is a campaign to democratise data and AI, by ensuring a powerful say for communities over decisions that affect them.