Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that the world is on the brink of an artificial intelligence revolution that could lead nations to prosperous times or lead to total destruction fueled by devastating high-tech wars.
“The artificial intelligence revolution is moving at lightning speed,” Netanyahu said during his address to the UN General Assembly last week. “It took centuries for humanity to adapt to the agricultural revolution. It took decades to adapt to the industrial revolution. We may only have a few years to adapt to the artificial intelligence revolution.”
The discussion of artificial intelligence at the United Nations was not at all common a few years ago. But after the launch of ChatGPT’s wildly popular chatbot that can mimic human conversation and other AI-powered platforms, artificial intelligence 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 that intention. He devoted the second half of his speech to the future of artificial intelligence and the “dangers” posed by the technology.
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“The dangers are great and they lie before us: The disruption of democracy, the manipulation of minds, the decimation of jobs, the proliferation of crime and the violation of all the systems that facilitate modern life,” he said.
“However, even more worrisome is the potential explosion of AI-driven wars that could reach an unimaginable scale,” Netanyahu said. “Behind this perhaps lies an even greater threat, once the stuff of science fiction — that self-learning machines could eventually control humans instead of the other way around.”
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Netanyahu’s remarks at the UN echo concerns from other world leaders and experts who have warned that artificial intelligence could be used by bad actors or global adversaries during war, which could lead to more deaths. Earlier this year, Fox News Digital asked ChatGPT to provide examples of “scary AI,” and even the chatbot mentioned AI weapons used in war.
“An example of ‘scary AI’ is an advanced autonomous weapon system that can independently locate and attack targets without human intervention,” the chatbot replied. “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 technology nonprofit Center for the Safety of Artificial Intelligence published a study earlier this year detailing four ways artificial intelligence could evolve into global disasters, including an AI race between nations that could translate into to “more destructive wars, the potential for accidental use or loss of control, and the prospect of malicious actors co-opting these technologies for their own ends.”
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“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.
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Netanyahu called on other nations to address such concerns about a future where “self-learning machines could eventually control humans” and to ensure “that the promise of an AI utopia does not turn into an AI dystopia.”
On the other hand, the Israeli prime minister invited people to “imagine” various scenarios of a more prosperous and efficiently governed world using artificial intelligence in everyday tasks.
“Imagine robots helping to take care of the elderly,” Netanyahu said, joking that his speech sounded like “a John Lennon song.” “Imagine the end of traffic congestion with self-driving vehicles on the ground, underground and in the air. Imagine personalized education that nurtures the full potential of each person throughout their life.”
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Following his visit to the US, where he delivered his speech at the UN 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 artificial intelligence.
“For several months now, I have been formulating a national plan,” Netanyahu said Wednesday, according to The Jerusalem Post. “I will soon appoint a project manager on the matter and also submit the national plan to the government and the public.
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“Artificial intelligence is an area that is much stronger than cyberspace, immeasurably stronger than cyberspace, and we have set a goal to make the State of Israel the No. 3 country in the world in this area, a very ambitious goal,” added.