Addressing the global audience at the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced concerns about the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing the potential threats if left unchecked.
In his opening remarks, Netanyahu stated, “The AI revolution is progressing at lightning speed.”
“It took centuries for humanity to adapt to the agricultural revolution. It took decades to adapt to the industrial revolution,” he added. “We may have but a few years to adapt to the AI revolution. 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. Yet, even more disturbing is the potential eruption of AI-driven wars that could achieve an unimaginable scale. And 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.”
Highlighting the immediate challenges posed by AI, the prime minister cautioned about threats to democracy, potential mind manipulation, job losses, the increased scope for criminal activity, and cyber vulnerabilities in crucial systems. More alarmingly, he brought attention to the risks of AI-escalated conflicts and the once-fictional, now plausible, scenario where machines could dominate humans.
Asserting the pressing need for international cooperation, Netanyahu urged, “The world’s leading nations, however competitive, must address these dangers,” he declared. “We must do so quickly and we must do so together. We must ensure that the promise of an AI utopia does not turn into an AI dystopia.”
Netanyahu wasn’t all doom and gloom about the potential benefits AI offers, however, stating:
We have so much to gain; imagine the blessings of finally cracking the genetic code; extending human life by decades, and dramatically reducing the ravages of old age.
Imagine health care tailored to each individual’s genetic composition and predictive medicine that prevents diseases long before they occur.
Imagine robots helping to care for the elderly; 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.
Imagine a world with boundless clean energy and natural resources for all nations.
Imagine precision agriculture and automated factories that yield food and goods in abundance that ends hunger and want.
Drawing parallels with John Lennon's vision of peace, he remarked, “Imagine that we could achieve something that eluded humanity for all history. It’s all within our reach. And here’s something else within our reach: with AI, we could explore the heavens as never before and extend humanity beyond our blue planet.”
Pivoting towards Israel's contributions in the realm of AI, the prime minister stated, “For good or bad, the developments of AI will be spearheaded by a handful of nations and my country Israel is already among them.”
“Just as Israel’s technological revolution provided the world with breathtaking innovations, I’m confident that AI developed by Israel will once again help all humanity. I call upon world leaders to come together to shape the great changes before us but to do so in a responsible and ethical way. Our goal must be to ensure that AI brings more freedom and not less, prevents wars instead of starting them and ensures that people live longer, healthier, more productive and peaceful lives. It’s within our reach,” he said.