Much of the American public might have been unaware that the United States is currently engaged in an artificial intelligence arms (AI) race with adversaries like China, but also with allies like Israel, until early this week President Trump issued the first-ever executive order prioritizing AI as a matter of national security. “Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” the president said in a statement posted to whitehouse.gov.
Following the executive order, The Jerusalem Post published a surprising report acknowledging an ongoing AI “arms race” between the US and Israel, which a key expert and ex-government agent cited in the report said is wrought with risks that include “crises even worse than 9/11”.
The top Israeli cybersecurity consultant who previously worked as a high level expert in the Israeli government, Amit Meltzer, explained in the report “that winning such a competition would not go well with careful oversight of negative consequences and potential abuses” — an observation also echoed by US Senate Vice Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), who though praising some elements of the executive order, criticized the potential dangers of AI and lack of structures in place for oversight.
Warner warned that Trump’s order “reflects a laissez-faire approach to AI development that… will have the US repeating the mistakes it has made in treating digital technologies as inherently positive forces, with insufficient consideration paid to their misapplication,” according to Bloomberg.
Amit Meltzer backed these concerns in his interview with The Jerusalem Post:
Furthermore, he said that concerns that certain companies would quickly gain domination of the AI sector and abuse their standing economically were possible.
But, he said that it was nearly impossible to square “the national necessity for the US” or Israel to “strengthen and maintain leadership in the industry” with policies that encourage caution and that new technologies should only be rolled out after any danger was carefully examined.
However, he noted that Sen. Warner’s critique stopped short of getting to the heart of the issue. The true dangers of AI lie in the potential for an abuse to lead to a ripple effect across networks and industries with such a rapid pace as to create societal disaster before it’s even realized what’s happening.