Netanyahu’s high-profile visit comes at a time when Musk is facing accusations of condoning anti-Semitism at X.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a trip to the US in California to discuss technology and artificial intelligence with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The Israeli leader posted on Monday on Musk’s social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that he plans to talk to the CEO of Tesla “about how we can use the opportunities and reduce the risks of AI for the benefit of civilization.”
Netanyahu’s high-profile visit to the San Francisco Bay Area comes at a time when Musk is facing accusations of allowing anti-Semitic messages on his social media platform, while Netanyahu is facing political opposition at home and abroad. Protesters gathered early Monday outside the Fremont, California factory where Tesla makes its cars.
The video livestream started just before 9:30am with Netanyahu and the Tesla CEO. Netanyahu’s official X account posted that he held a “one-on-one conversation” with Musk. The number of spectators is around 700-800 people.
The two started with a joke about deepfakes and quickly launched into a discussion of artificial intelligence as a blessing and a curse for humanity.
Netanyahu said a key question about more advanced AI is: “How do you get the international regime to control this thing?”
He said it would start by getting like-minded states to agree on a code of ethics and code of conduct to promote benefits and “prevent curses” but said there was still a need to “police the planet” against rogue actors.
The freestyle conversation, which included jokes from both men, soon turned to free speech and anti-Semitism, with Netanyahu telling Musk that he hoped within the bounds of the First Amendment, he can find a way to prevent anti-Semitism and so on. forms of hate on his social media platform.
“I encourage you and I encourage you to find balance. It’s a tough one,” Netanyahu said.
Musk responded that he was “kind of against anything that promotes hatred and conflict,” The Washington Post reported. He added that he is “in favor of that which advances civilization and ultimately leads us to become a civilization in space”, and that “we cannot do that if there is a lot of fighting and hatred and negativity. So I am obviously against the antisemitism.
Musk said that with 100 million to 200 million posts on X a day, “some of them are going to be bad.” He then reiterated the platform’s policy not to promote or amplify hate speech.
Under Musk, Twitter previously changed its rules so that bad posts are not usually removed, but instead their visibility is limited so that people can search for them when they want to see them. Musk called it “freedom of speech, not freedom of achievement”.
‘Enhanced’ hate speech
Musk has faced accusations of allowing anti-Semitic messages on his social media platform. The Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights organization, accused Musk of tolerating anti-Semitism and hate speech in X. Its director, Jonathan Greenblatt, said Musk “raised ” the messages of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who want to ban the league by joining them recently in X.
In a September 4 post, Musk claimed the league was “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it and me of being anti-Semitic.” In other posts, he said the league was responsible for a 60 percent decrease in X’s revenue.
The group met this month with X’s chief executive, Linda Yaccarino. Both Musk and Yaccarino have recently posted messages saying they oppose antisemitism.
Netanyahu’s meeting with Musk comes on the heels of nine months of demonstrations by Israelis against their prime minister’s plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system. Protests spread abroad, with Israeli expat groups staging demonstrations during visits by Netanyahu and other members of his Cabinet.
Netanyahu says the judicial reform plan is necessary to curb the powers of unelected judges, who he and his allies say are liberal and too interventionist. Critics say his plan is a power grab that will destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and push it toward autocratic rule.
Leading figures in Israel’s influential hi-tech community played a key role in the protests. They said the weakening of the judiciary would harm the country’s business climate and drive away foreign investment. Israel’s currency, the shekel, has depreciated this year in a sign of weakening foreign investment.