Why so secretive?

Secret Summit

Last week, before the axis of the artificial intelligence world veritably shifted with OpenAI's ongoing leadership shakeup, a group of AI and military leaders met in a secretive three-day retreat in the Utah mountains.

As Bloomberg reports, the AI Security Summit — not to be confused with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's AI Safety Summit earlier in November — was hosted by the startup Scale AI, a contractor that offers data security to everyone from OpenAI to the US Army.

At the rented-out luxury hotel located somewhere near-ish to Park City, Utah, the summit's assembled AI and military insiders were given the chance to speak candidly — no direct attribution was allowed from attendees or press — about issues facing the industry, even as President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping held their own tête-à-tête 800 miles away in San Francisco to discuss, among other things, regulations on AI.

During the three-day event, Scale AI's invite-only guests picked out bespoke cowboy hats, ate coffee-rubbed bison steaks, made s'mores, and undoubtedly had top-shelf spirits during fireside chats about all manner of big-deal issues like the pace of AI advancement and the possibility that the tech may advance to the level of artificial general intelligence or AGI, in which it could perform at a human level or even surpass us.

Interestingly, as Bloomberg indicates, there didn't appear to be any prior knowledge of OpenAI's then-forthcoming Red Wedding that took place just a day or two after the summit, which featured executives from the firm.

No Quotes, Please

While we know some general information about the secretive event, such as the topics of panel discussions that included US-China AI relations and a deep dive into the chips that power the technology, most of what went on at the summit remains a mystery because Bloomberg's Rachel Metz seems to have been the only press working at the summit, and she agreed not to quote anyone or anything she heard directly.

The journalist did, however, manage to sneak in one unsourced quote that took place during an archery lesson where guests unskilled in the art learned to shoot bows and arrows.

"He didn’t need a lot of training data," a guest joked after a teammate made a good shot on the bullseye made up to look like a furious bear, per Bloomberg's reporting.

The summit, of course, was definitely not all fun and games — but in the tech world that AI leaders and their military contractors occupy, work and play are often very enmeshed.

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