In his recent speech to the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dedicated a significant portion of his time to the topic of artificial intelligence.
After spending much of his speech on the Iran nuclear threat, and on opportunities to advance peace in the Middle East in response to this threat, Netanyahu then pivoted to what he considers “perhaps the most consequential development of our time.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, whether our future will prove to be a blessing or a curse will also depend on how we address perhaps the most consequential development of our time: the rise of artificial intelligence,” 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. We may have but a few years to adapt to the AI revolution.”
Netanyahu began by focusing on the potential dangers that AI could bring with it.
“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 warned the assembly.
He also warned of “AI-driven wars that could achieve an unimaginable scale,” and that “self-taught machines could eventually control humans, instead of the other way around.”
Humanity must work together to “ensure that the promise of an AI utopia does not turn into an AI dystopia,” said Netanyahu.
After speaking about a potential “AI dystopia,” he went on to describe his vision of an “AI utopia.”
“Imagine the blessings of finally cracking the genetic code, extending human life by decades, and dramatically reducing the ravages of old age,” Netanyahu began.
“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, imagine that we could achieve the end of scarcity,” he further stated. “Something that eluded humanity for all history. It's all within our reach. And here's something else within our reach. With AI, we can explore the heavens as never before, and extend humanity beyond our blue planet.”
Noting that “the developments of AI will be spearheaded by a handful of nations,” and that “Israel is already among them,” Netanyahu said world leaders must “come together to shape the great changes before us.”
The prime minister also stated that human wisdom and empathy must not be lost during this AI revolution.
“Let us always remember the irreplaceable value of human intuition and wisdom. Let us cherish and preserve the human capacity for empathy, which no machine can replace.”
In the final words of his speech, Netanyahu said that humanity should work to “avoid the perils of AI by combining the forces of human and machine intelligence, to usher in a brilliant future for our world in our time, and for all time.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.