Israel is already weaponizing AI, but not in the way it claims to be

Do scholars and activists who advocate for Palestinian rights sometimes unwittingly promote Israel’s arms industry? Israel’s military advertising machine notoriously uses the occupation as a laboratory or showcase for its newly developed weapons, but this creates a dilemma for activists who oppose Israeli arms exports. Scholars and activists are morally obligated to expose the crimes committed by Israeli forces. But by pointing to the destruction, suffering and death these weapons cause, activists may inadvertently reproduce exactly the propaganda that allows Israel to sell its technologies of death, destruction and repression.

To avoid falling into the trap of Israeli hype, we need to step back and look at Israeli methods of state oppression and violence over time. Israeli forces in the West Bank recently reverted to the methods of 20 years ago, during the second Intifada, with an Apache helicopter spraying bullets into an entire crowd. Technology is going backwards.

Spyware is a good example of this hype. Israeli spyware companies received government authorization to sell spyware to the highest bidder or to authoritarian regimes with which the Israeli government wanted to improve relations. That doesn’t make spyware an Israeli technology intelligence organization in the United States, Russia and other countries with access to spyware just don’t offer it for sale on the market.

In his book, The Palestine LaboratoryAntony Loewenstein discusses how this ad campaign is being produced to boost sales of Israeli arms companies, and Rhys Machhold also warned against texts critical of Israeli crimes being subverted in promotional materials by the same companies that activists are looking for to stop.

Beyond the Israeli hype machine

The latest development of the hype machine is artificial intelligence. The rapid development of artificial intelligence with the ability to learn and adapt sparks amazement and fear in the media and social media, so it is no surprise that apartheid Israeli institutions are already trying to define themselves as forerunners.

In his article for Magazine 972Sophia Goodfriend warns of the Israeli military’s use of artificial intelligence, but her only source for this claim is the Israeli military itself. In June 2022, Israel’s largest arms company, Elbit Systems, unveiled its new killer robot swarm system called Legion-X, labeling it as AI-driven. The weapon is truly terrifying. Importantly, however, the Legion-X contains fewer AI capabilities than a self-driving car, and there is no evidence that it will be any more or less lethal than any other military unit operating in a civilian neighborhood in occupied territory. .

Netanyahu gave an impassioned speech on Israel as a world leader in AI research that contains more or less truth than any of Netanyahu’s other speeches. Open AI CEO and one of the most famous developers of the ChatGPT system, Sam Altman, declined the opportunity to meet with Netanyahu during a planned trip to Israel in early June. Netanyahu then quickly announced that Israel would commission NVIDIA, a company whose stock was soaring due to its involvement with artificial intelligence, to build a supercomputer for the Israeli government. The plans were scrapped within days when it became apparent that the idea to build the supercomputer was based on a whim and not a feasibility study. Interestingly, the cancellation of the mega-project was published in Hebrew, but not in English-language media.

Fear of AI fuels a lively debate about the dangers of AI, with prominent AI scholars like Eliezer Yudkowsky sounding the alarm and warning that unsupervised AI development should be considered as dangerous as weapons of destruction mass. Discussions of the dangers of AI focus on the danger posed by autonomous weapons or AI taking over entire systems to achieve a goal assigned to it by a reckless operator. The common example is the hypothetical instruction of a powerful AI system to solve climate change, a scenario in which the AI ​​promptly exterminates humans, who are, logically, the cause of climate change.

Unsurprisingly, the Israeli discussion of artificial intelligence is very different. The Israeli military says it has already installed an autonomous cannon in Hebron, but Israel is lagging behind the EU, UK and US when it comes to regulating AI to minimize risk. Israel is ranked 22nd in the Oxford Insights AI Readiness Index. In October 2022, Israel’s Minister of Technology and Innovation, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, said no legislation is needed to regulate AI.

Autonomous weapons, or robot rebellion, however, are not the major risk posed by new AI developments. In my opinion, the language model, often referred to as ChatGPT, and the ability to fabricate images, sound and video realistic enough to look like authentic documentation can give unlimited power to AI users who are wealthy enough to purchase unlimited access.

In a conversation with ChatGPT, if you try to raise risky topics, the program will inform you that by answering you will violate the guidelines. ChatGPT has the power to collect private information about individuals, collect information on how to make dangerous explosives, chemical or biological weapons and most dangerous, ChatGPT knows how to speak convincingly to human beings and make them believe a certain mixture of truth and lies that can influence their policy. The only thing stopping ChatGPT users from wreaking havoc are the protections installed by the developers, which they can just as easily remove.

Disinformation companies such as Cambridge Analytica have shown how elections can be influenced by distributing fake news and, more importantly, tailoring false information to individuals by using data they collect about their age, gender, family situation, hobbies, likes and dislikes to influence them. Although Cambridge Analytica was eventually exposed, the Israeli Archimedes group that worked with them has never been exposed or held accountable. A recent report by Forbidden Stories revealed that the Archimedes Group exists as an entire disinformation and vote-rigging industry based in Israel, but operating worldwide. Disinformation companies already use rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence to create armies of fake avatars, who spread disinformation on social media. Candidates who can afford to destroy the reputations of their opponents can find their way into public office. It’s illegal, but the Israeli government has chosen to allow this industry to operate freely outside Israel.

Leading the world in misusing AI

Recently, Jane, Black spot, and even the US Department of Homeland Security has debated the ethical risks posed by OSINT (open source intelligence). Espionage, which involves stealing information and covert surveillance, is risky and illegal, but by gathering publicly available information from open sources, such as newspapers, social media, etc., spies can build comprehensive profiles on their targets. An OSINT operation by an intelligence agency in a foreign land requires a great deal of time, effort and money. A team of agents must be assembled who speak the language and understand the local customs and thus painstakingly gather information about a target, which could then be used for character assassination or even actual assassination.

Again, Israel is not an OSINT leader, but it is a leader in the unscrupulous use of these methods for money. The Israeli firm Black Cube, founded by former Mossad agents, offered its services to criminals such as Harvey Weinstein and sought to conduct a character assassination of the women who had complained against him. Fortunately, Black Cube has failed in most of its projects. Their lies weren’t credible enough, their covers too obvious, the information they gathered too incomplete.

With the new capabilities of AI, all of that changes. Anyone who can bribe AI vendors to disable ethical restrictions on AI will have the power to conduct an OSINT operation in minutes, which would normally take weeks and a team of dozens of humans. With this power, AI can be used to not only kill people with autonomous weapons, but much more seriously, AI can play a subversive role, influencing the decision-making process of human beings in their ability to distinguish friend from foe .

Human rights organizations and United Nations experts today recognize that the State of Israel is an apartheid regime. Israeli authorities don’t need artificial intelligence to kill defenseless Palestinian civilians. However, they need AI to justify their unjustifiable actions, to make the killing of civilians a necessary or collateral damage, and to avoid liability. Human propagandists have not been able to protect Israel’s reputation, it is too difficult a task for a human being. But Israel hopes artificial intelligence can succeed where humans have failed.

There is no reason to think that the Israeli regime has access to artificial intelligence technologies other than those available on the commercial market, but there is every reason to believe that it will do anything and cross any red line to keep apartheid and the settlers . colonialism against the Palestinian people. With new AI language models available, such as ChatGPT, the only thing that will stand between this regime and its goal is whether AI developers recognize the risk of arming an apartheid regime with such dangerous technology.

The commander of the Israeli secret police, Ronen Bar, announced that this is already happening and that artificial intelligence is being used to make autonomous decisions online and to monitor people on social media, in order to blame them for crimes they have not yet committed. It is a wake-up call that AI has already been weaponized by Israel. However, preventing the harm caused by AI is only possible if we take the time to figure it out.

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