OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, who is touring the Middle East and other countries as he mulls investment opportunities, predicted on Monday that Israel will play a “huge role” in reducing risks from artificial intelligence.
Altman is one of the tech world’s most prominent voices urging governments to rapidly come up with regulations to make sure AI is used responsibly.
After crisscrossing Europe last month meeting lawmakers and national leaders to discuss the prospects and threats of AI, Altman now plans to travel to Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, India and South Korea – all this week.
He is currently in Israel, which a Stanford University study ranks among the top five countries for significant machine learning systems and concentration of AI skills.
“I have been very heartened as I have been doing this trip around the world, getting to meet world leaders, in seeing the thoughtfulness, the focus, and the urgency on figuring out how we mitigate these very huge risks,” Altman said during a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
“The energy on making use of the technology and its positive benefits is fantastic to see, and I am sure Israel will play a huge role.”
EU drafting AI Act
The rapid development and popularity of generative AI since Microsoft-backed OpenAI launched ChatGPT last year are spurring global lawmakers to formulate laws to address safety concerns linked to the technology.
The European Union is striding ahead with its draft AI Act, which is expected to become law later this year, while the United States is leaning toward adapting existing laws for AI rather than creating whole new legislation.
Britain also wants to avoid heavy-handed legislation that could stifle innovation.
“Israel – like Britain, and to a great extent like Canada, too – is at the US end of the spectrum,” Ziv Katzir, director of national AI planning at the Israel Innovation Authority, said.
“It has been working on this matter for the last 18 months or so, with a view to achieving the right balance between innovation and the preservation of human rights and civic safeguards.”
Israel published a 115-page draft AI policy in October and is collating public feedback ahead of a final decision.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
NOTE: Minor edits were made to the text on Monday June 5, 2023.