SAVING THE WORLD
Is there any connection between the report on climate change issued this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Google’s launch of its own Chatbot, Bard?
I think there is. The challenges of climate change are enormous. The UN report warns us that unless we take urgent action, we run the risk of exceeding a 1.5°C rise, which will lead to devastating consequences for our planet. Secretary-General Guterres calls on governments to take drastic action to reduce emissions by investing in renewable energy and low-carbon technology.
But these are only conventional means of tackling this problem. Where Artificial Intelligence can help us is to come up with additional, even unconventional methods. The Daily Telegraph pointed out this week that insufficient attention is given in the IPCC report to the contributions that can be made by free markets and commercially driven innovation. AI can go further. Harnessed appropriately, it is capable of delivering integrated solutions that can encompass all the factors at play in a way that human beings are not able to. We may be facing the most serious crisis in the history of the world. But, Artificial Intelligence is a remarkable new technology that has the potential to assist us in a more holistic way.
Ultimately, what is needed is a rethink of how we view our planet.
In this week’s parasha (Vayikra 5:15), we read of the consequences of me’ila or misappropriating sacred property. When we abuse the environment, we are, at one level, misappropriating G-d’s world.
The Midrash (Kohelet Raba 7:13) tells us: “When G-d created Adam, He took him around the trees of the Garden of Eden, and He said to him, ‘Look at My works! How beautiful and praiseworthy they are. Everything that I have created, I created for you. Take care not to damage and destroy My world, for if you damage it, there is no one to repair it after you.’”
The meaning of this Midrash is that this message was not just conveyed to the first human. G-d challenges us with this warning in every generation. (Take care not to destroy My world…) Scientific progress and environmental awareness has given us the knowledge that what seemed like a harmless activity in one century is discovered to be damaging to the environment in the next century.
As Jews and as citizens of the world, we must each make our own contributions to tackle the greatest challenge of our age. To my mind, AI could be the tool that will assist us in overcoming this challenge.