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Israel Likely to Play Big Role in Reducing AI Risks: Altman

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman predicted Israel, a country ranked high for machine learning systems, will the right balance between innovation, human rights and civic safeguards

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said at Davos there is no way the AI sector will have enough power in the future unless we get an energy "breakthrough" (Reuters image from May 2023).


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.”


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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.




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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