During his speech at the second day of Cyber Week 2023, Israel State Comptroller and Vice President of EUROSAI Matanyahu Englman warned about the dangerous potential of artificial intelligence, and announced his intention to place the field of cybersecurity at the forefront of the State Comptroller’s audit, noting the grave importance of the government’s preparation for AI-based risks.
“The world is in an arms race towards AI,” he said. “The risks of AI can destabilize our world and affect humanity as a whole – AI tools could be used by hostile elements, such as terrorists and criminals, and cause tremendous damage.”
“The race for AI has led various countries around the world to making huge investments in the field. To emphasize the risks involved, it is enough to mention estimates that two of the four leading countries in the field are China and Russia,” he continued, noting that the leaders of these countries have made public statements regarding the power of being an AI leader. “Alongside the countries, the world's leading technology companies as well invest billions of dollars to enable a free environment for the development of AI tools.”
Englman went on to note that, since its release to the public on November 30, 2022, Chat-GPT has become the figurehead of the AI movement, having accumulated over 100 million users in just 60 days. By comparison, he pointed out, leading social media platform Facebook took four and a half years to hit the same user milestone.
Three major risks presented by AI developments
He highlighted three major risks presented by AI developments: “One is our inability to know whether the information we receive is true or false, as we already live in a world rampant with fake news. Another main risk is autonomous weapons in the wrong hands – terrorist organizations, organized crime etc. Other major risks involve the labor market in which many jobs will disappear while a demand will be created for others,” he said.
“In order to deal with the multitude of risks, regulation is required, which many countries have only just begun to establish. It appears that the European Parliament is the most advanced, having just recently passed legislation. The Israeli government must get involved in this matter,” he said.
Englman laid out the State Comptroller's plan to assess the readiness, regulation, and implementation of AI in public-state systems. The plan focuses on three crucial aspects that warrant attention:
The first aspect pertains to technology. The audit office aims to determine whether the government is adequately prepared for the advancements and challenges presented by AI. This includes evaluating the government's governance structures, computing capabilities, and human capital to ensure they align with the demands of AI integration. Additionally, the plan emphasizes the need to examine the information and data upon which AI systems base their decisions, aiming to shed light on the often-opaque nature of AI algorithms.
The second aspect of the audit plan revolves around regulation and legislation. Recognizing the potential adverse effects and dangers associated with AI, the government seeks to safeguard its citizens and itself by implementing appropriate restrictions on AI technology. This proactive approach aims to strike a balance between leveraging AI's benefits and mitigating any potential harm or misuse.
The third and final aspect focuses on the implementation of AI within the public-state systems. The audit office intends to assess how AI has been assimilated across various national sectors, such as health, law, defense, and education. By evaluating the extent and efficacy of AI integration, the government aims to identify areas of improvement, address potential challenges, and optimize the benefits of AI adoption in these critical domains.
“The auditing world views AI as involving major risks. The challenges involved in coping with the issue are complex and require, among other things, continuous cooperation between states,” Englman concluded. “We in the State Comptroller's Office are committed to continue addressing this significant topic even more vigorously, for the benefit of the citizens of Israel and the entire world.”
Cyber Week 2023 is the latest iteration of the annual conference which convenes cybersecurity experts and executives from around the world in order to discuss the state of the cybersecurity industry and look toward its future.