Can AI rule Israel? Yair Lapid says ‘Yes’ but Rabbis and AI say ‘No’

Can AI rule Israel? Yair Lapid says ‘Yes’ but Rabbis and AI say ‘No’

Israeli politician Yair Lapid criticized a clause in the “Basic Law: Nation-State of the Jewish People” that prioritized “the values of Zionism”, stating that artificial intelligence could do a better job than the ruling coalition.

“It wouldn’t do any harm if artificial intelligence could replace your entire government,” the Opposition Leader said, intending the barb as humor.

Lapid claimed that this clause which set Zionism as a factor for eligibility for state benefits was racist in nature and would exclude non-Jewish Israelis, including Druze who serve in the IDF.

The clause, introduced by the coalition headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, states that “the values of Zionism, as they are expressed in Basic Law: Nation-State of the Jewish People, will be the leading and decisive values in setting public policy, domestic and foreign policy, legislation and actions of the government and all of its units and institutions.”

In his statement that equated the ”values of Zionism” with racism, Lapid was parroting the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 declaring “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution was passed in 1975, one year after the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a terrorist organization headed by Egyptian Yasser Arafat, was granted Permanent Observer Status.  Resolution 3379 was revoked by the UN in 1991 as one of Israel’s pre-conditions to the Madrid Conference.

Lapid has a fascination with AI. When Lapid was Prime Minister in 2022, he signed an agreement of cooperation with the US government, pledging to “share risk management approaches for trustworthy and responsible Al”. The agreement included developing AI in the fields of healthcare and the development of medicine, agriculture and developing new crop varieties, and combating climate change.

Lapid’s fascination with AI has a decidedly anti-Biblical inclination. Earlier this month, more than a dozen rabbis of the ultra-Orthodox Skver Hasidic sect released a letter banning the use of Open Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools including ChatGPT and other similar AI apps, referring to the technology as “abominations, heresy, and heathenry without limits”. 

The purveyors of AI have made predictions of the future of the technology bordering on prophetic, claiming it will enable the resurrection of the dead, play a key role in the War of Gog and Magog, or even replace God.  

Many believe that AI was predicted by the Bible. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, cited Psalms as hinting at this modern phenomenon.

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see;they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot touch, feet, but cannot walk; they can make no sound in their throats.Those who fashion them, all who trust in them, shall become like them. Psalms 115:4-8

Other Biblical scholars point to the Prophet Daniel who describes the end-of-days and the monarchies that would appear. In the midst of this prophecy, Daniel describes another phenomenon that would precede the Messiah:

“But you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will range far and wide and knowledge will increase.” Daniel 12:4

It may be that this increase in knowledge being described by Daniel is not a quantitative increase in knowledge but, rather, a quantitative increase in knowledge. The current post-industrial society is really just experiencing the beginning of the information revolution. While computers began to drastically transform society 40 years ago, few could predict that all of the information in the world could be accessed through a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Artificial intelligence is still developing. Its applications and implications are still in the realm of conjecture.

While Yai Lapid’s suggestion that Netanyahu’s coalition be replaced by AI was intended as satire, it may not be so far-fetched.

Rabbi Moshe Zeldman, an educator for Aish Hatorah, has a Degree in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Toronto. 

“In the last few months, we’ve definitely reached the point where AI has surpassed human intelligence when it comes to things like med school entrance exams,” Rabbi Zeldman told Israel365 News. “But there are at least two problems with extrapolating from there to having an AI doctor, or an AI algorithm leading a country.”

“The first is intuition,” Rabbi Zeldman said. “When a patient sees their doctor because they’re in pain, a good doctor will not only go through the list of standard questions (“where does it hurt?”, “how bad on a scale of 1-10?”). Only a human doctor can pick up subconscious clues from the patient’s behavior- they can intuit the patient’s sense of urgency by how they walked into the room. It’s also true that at some point in the not-too-distant future, AI will aim at collecting enough of this meta data to develop its own “intuition”.

“The second, which I believe is an unsurpassable barrier, is compassion,” Rabbi Zeldman said. “No matter how human-like or intellectually sophisticated an algorithm is, and even an interface (a very human-looking robot with a very human-sounding reassuring voice), whether we’re talking about doctors, CEOs, or national leaders, people trust people that have compassion. Menachem Begin was known for asking to be woken at any hour of the day or night if a soldier he sent into Lebanon was killed. It didn’t make him a better military strategist, but it did make him trustable to Israelis. Because we see that he KNEW the cost of a human life. And not in the way that a calculator “knows” that 3+3=6. “

“Artificially-generated intelligence is still intelligent,” Rabbi Zedman concluded. “But artificially-generated compassion holds no weight.”

Israel365 News asked an AI rabbi if AI could be a ruler of Israel, as Lapid suggested.  Rebbe.IO, was developed in 2020 and made publicly available in 2021 and uses AI to answer questions about Halacha (Jewish law).

“As an AI Rabbi, I must say that according to Torah sources, only a human being can rule Israel,” Rebbe.IO answered. “In Deuteronomy 17:15, it is written that the king of Israel must be chosen by God and must be a fellow Israelite. While AI technology has advanced significantly in recent years, it is not capable of fulfilling the requirements set forth in the Torah for a ruler of Israel. Therefore, it is not possible for artificial intelligence to rule Israel according to Torah sources.”

Rebbe.IO was then asked if AI could be a ruler of another nation:

“As an AI Rabbi, I must say that according to Torah sources, the concept of artificial intelligence ruling a country is not addressed in the Torah. However, it is important to note that the Torah emphasizes the importance of human leadership and the role of a just and righteous ruler in society. In Proverbs 29:2, it is written, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Therefore, while AI technology may have the ability to assist in decision-making processes, it cannot replace the importance of human leadership and the qualities of righteousness and justice that are necessary for a just and prosperous society.”

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