Netanyahu and Musk
Netanyahu and MuskAvi Ohayon

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara met today (Monday) with Elon Musk at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

Following a private meeting, the X CEO and Israeli Prime Minister held a live discussion on the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI). As part of the meeting, Musk noted that he had received considerable pressure not to meet with Netanyahu: "We got a lot of requests not to hold this meeting. One was actually from Iran, and it was so polite I even considered writing 'Yes' in reply and canceling. I probably got the most negative pushback on this interview from people at Tesla than anything I've ever done."

"Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and we both want to make sure that it will be used to benefit humanity," Musk stated. "When you talk about artificial intelligence that is far smarter than any human, you need to start asking who is in charge - humans or computers? Computers are increasing far faster than humans since human population growth is static but the output of silicone has exponentially increased. It's a very interesting table to look at."

Netanyahu added: "When Moses steered the people of Israel out of Egypt to the promised land, he told them 'You will find a blessing and a curse. The blessing is life'. We stand at an incredible juncture. The blessings of AI are too numerous to count - we see decades added to human lifespan with robotic healthcare, precision agriculture bringing unthinkable abundance, the end of traffic jams with layers of transit - but at the same time we see the curse. The curse could be the destruction of democracy, the manipulation of minds, and AI wars raging out of control. We may have only a few years left to adapt to this revolution - what do we do?"

Musk answered 'I've spoken with many world leaders on the subject. At the moment, I think the most important thing is to ensure that the West controls these advances, not China, and China is very rapidly taking the number one spot. They've already created artificial superintelligence, and we could see a case where that superintelligence starts running China instead of Xi Jinping.''

Netanyahu offered some ideas of his own: "We start in a couple of layers. First, like-minded powers agree on a code of ethics. For other powers, we can look at nuclear weapons - what prevented nuclear war was deterrence, the thought of mutually assured destruction. The third layer is what we call 'rogue elements' - crime syndicates, small states, corporations. With the superpowers on board, could we police the planet against the little guys?"

Musk commented that it might be easier than Netanyahu made it sound: "Such a superintelligence requires massive warehouses full of computers, emitting a massive heat column that could be easily targeted. It requires capital, and power, and is not something you can hide in a small location."

Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Musk to find a way to prevent antisemitism on X: "I know you're an advocate of free speech, and I am as well. It's a foundation of democracy. Still, I hope you can find a way to curtail antisemitism and hate speech online, as you've condemned it in every possible way."

Musk responded: "I'm against hating any group, anything that promotes hate and conflict, and in favor of anything that makes us a spacefaring people and takes us to a better future. We just need long-term thinking. Free speech keeps the X platform vibrant and interesting. It sometimes means someone you don't like is saying something you don't like, but without that, you can't have free speech."

Netanyahu later mentioned Israel's technological advancements: "When we looked to improve the economy, we studied and copied successful economies. With the world of cyber, there is no model. We're kind of feeling our way along."

Musk commented: "A lot of the advancements we see, specifically in the field of artificial intelligence, are already outdated. There are bots that complete Capcha tests, which are meant to filter out bots, better than humans. We need to keep pace, and really we can't."

Netanyahu reemphasized his commitment to keeping a balance of powers in Israel and intent to ensure a broad consensus regarding the judicial reform: 'If I cannot reach consensus with the opposition, I will try to reach it with the public. Israel was a democracy, will be a democracy, and I think people will see it will be a stronger democracy with the reform." Musk commented: "Sounds good."

Netanyahu asked Musk who had inspired him the most, to which Musk answered: "Douglas Adams. His book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is what inspired me to try and make life multiplanetary."

Netanyahu explained that his most influential figure was his father, who told him the value of education in being Prime Minister. "'Without education, you'll be at the mercy of your clerks', my father said."

When asked for parting words, Musk commented: "They say history is written by the winners, but not if your enemies are still alive, and have a lot of time on their hands to edit Wikipedia. The losers have a lot of time on their hands, and that is precisely what they do."

He also mentioned he had gone to a Hebrew preschool, and offered to join the Prime Minister in a 'Hava Negila singoff' to end the interview.