Intelligent governance
G7 Summit

Intelligent governance

The G7 Apulia Summit marks an opportunity to drive further progress on regulating the development and use of artificial intelligence – a fast-evolving landscape that is teetering between national sovereignty and international cooperation

The 50th annual G7 summit in Italy represents a crucial juncture in the global dialogue on artificial intelligence and global governance. Between the summit in Apulia in June 2024 and its predecessor in Hiroshima in June 2023, many initiatives have aimed at shaping the trajectory of AI development. These include the Summit on Responsible AI in the Military Domain, convened by the Netherlands, and the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, hosted by the United Kingdom. There is also the G7’s very own Hiroshima AI Process, with a policy framework that comprises guiding principles and an international code of conduct, among other things.

The shifting AI governance landscape

Such recent endeavours to regulate the development and use of AI have made good progress in putting into place the foundational building blocks, such as guiding principles and joint declarations of intent. The UK’s AI Safety Summit in late 2023 was relatively remarkable given that it was attended by states that are leading the AI field. The summit culminated in the Bletchley Declaration, which acknowledged AI’s inherent risks, called for international cooperation to address them, and reiterated the need for safe, human-centric and responsible development and use of AI. Similar sentiments are echoed elsewhere, as demonstrated by the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 78/241 in December 2023, which revolved around the states’ concerns regarding the application of AI in the military domain.

At the regional level, the landscape of AI regulation is also evolving. AI regulation policy is being worked on at the African Union, and the EU Parliament has adopted the AI Act. However, various challenges lie ahead. Competing national interests mean that states will likely prioritise national security and tech leadership over collaborative safety standards, especially in AI technologies that have dual-use capabilities. This preference may lead to a ‘wall of national sovereignty’ and, if states retreat behind this wall, the resulting regulatory divergence – characterised by conflicting regulations and standards – poses a major barrier to international AI cooperation. The lack of legally binding enforcement mechanisms also limits the impact of international initiatives as their practical effectiveness often hinges on enforcement measures to ensure compliance.

The G7 as a force of positive progress

The progress made over the past year is a cause for optimism. At Apulia, G7 leaders should continue building upon the progress made, with two focus areas.

The first is for G7 leaders to collectively commit to operationalising the Hiroshima AI Principles. This could include a commitment to provide substantive support for the Hiroshima AI Process. Tangible efforts in this regard could include the establishment of mechanisms for enhanced information sharing and incident reporting, as outlined in Principles 2 and 4. Offering training support to organisations to foster the development of relevant AI policies, as suggested in Principle 5, is another example. Moreover, G7 leaders should seek to identify and leverage synergies between the Hiroshima AI Process and other frameworks – particularly for European G7 members, where alignment with the EU’s AI Act could offer mutual reinforcement.

Second, recognising AI as a global challenge necessitates a broader inclusion beyond the group’s members. It is crucial that G7 leaders mitigate any perception that their initiatives are insular. To this end, engaging with developing states in a gradualist manner is vital, echoing successful precedents with the development agenda, which culminated in the Monterrey Consensus and the Heiligendamm Process in the 2000s. Given AI’s rapid development, building mutual trust among states at each stage will further solidify the foundation for more sustainable international regulatory regimes.

At the Apulia Summit, the G7 has the potential to build upon a foundation of collaboration and inclusive engagement to drive further progress on global AI governance. By focusing on operationalising the Hiroshima AI Principles and ensuring sufficient outreach to others, G7 leaders can pave the way for a safer and more equitable future.