Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the world is on the cusp of an artificial intelligence revolution that could launch nations into prosperous times or lead to all-out destruction fueled by devastating high-tech wars.
‘The AI revolution is progressing at lightning speed,’ Netanyahu said during his U.N. General Assembly speech last week. ‘It took centuries for humanity to adapt to the agricultural revolution. It took decades to adapt to the industrial revolution. We may have but a few years to adapt to the AI revolution.’
Talk of artificial intelligence at the U.N. was hardly common just a few years ago. But after the release of ChatGPT’s wildly popular chatbot that can mimic human conversation and other AI-powered platforms, AI has become a hot topic among world leaders.
Netanyahu’s speech focused on building a peaceful ‘new Middle East,’ and cited relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as evidence of this intention. He devoted the latter half of his speech to the future of AI and the ‘perils’ the technology poses.
‘The perils are great, and they are before us: The disruption of democracy, the manipulation of minds, the decimation of jobs, the proliferation of crime and the hacking of all the systems that facilitate modern life,’ he said.
‘Yet, even more disturbing is the potential eruption of AI-driven wars that could achieve an unimaginable scale,’ Netanyahu said. ‘Behind this perhaps looms an even greater threat, once the stuff of science fiction — that self-taught machines could eventually control humans instead of the other way around.’
Netanyahu’s remarks at the U.N. echo concerns from other world leaders and experts who have warned AI could be used by bad actors or global adversaries during war, which could lead to more death. Earlier this year, Fox News Digital asked ChatGPT to provide examples of ‘scary AI,’ and even the chatbot cited AI-powered weapons used in war.
‘An example of ‘scary AI’ is an advanced autonomous weapon system that can independently identify and attack targets without human intervention,’ the chatbot responded. ‘These systems, often referred to as ‘killer robots’ or ‘lethal autonomous weapons,’ raise ethical concerns and the potential for misuse or unintended consequences.’
Researchers at the tech nonprofit Center for AI Safety published a study earlier this year detailing four ways AI could spiral into worldwide catastrophes, including an AI race between nations that could translate to ‘more destructive wars, the possibility of accidental usage or loss of control and the prospect of malicious actors co-opting these technologies for their own purpose.’
‘Although walking, shooting robots have yet to replace soldiers on the battlefield, technologies are converging in ways that may make this possible in the near future,’ the researchers explained.
Netanyahu called on other nations to address such concerns about a future where ‘self-taught machines could eventually control humans’ and to ensure ‘that the promise of an AI utopia does not turn into an AI dystopia.’
On the flip side, the Israeli prime minister called on people to ‘imagine’ various scenarios of a more prosperous and efficiently run world by using AI in day-to-day tasks.
‘Imagine robots helping to care for the elderly,’ Netanyahu said, joking that his speech sounded like ‘a John Lennon song.’ ‘Imagine the end of traffic jams with self-driving vehicles on the ground, below the ground and in the air. Imagine personalized education that cultivates each person’s full potential throughout their lifetime.’
Following his visit to the U.S., where he delivered his U.N. speech and also met with tech leader Elon Musk and President Biden, Netanyahu said he plans to make Israel the ‘No. 3 country in the world’ for AI.
‘For several months now, I have been formulating a national plan,’ Netanyahu said Wednesday, according to The Jerusalem Post. .’Soon I will appoint a project manager on the subject, and I will also submit the national plan to the government and the public.
‘Artificial intelligence is an area that is much stronger than cyber, immeasurably stronger than cyber, and we have set the goal of turning the State of Israel into the No. 3 country in the world in this field, a very ambitious goal,’ he added.