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AI and October 7th: Reconciling the Very Best and Worst of Humanity
A few notes about a personal struggle.
I knew that the High Holidays were going to curtail my newsletter content, but I could never have predicted October 7th.
Over the last month I’ve had to compartmentalize in a way that I’ve never had to before. I’m not shy about the fact that I live in Israel. And on the X platform, I’ve certainly not been shy about voicing my opinions in Hebrew, English and even a drop of Arabic about the current war in Gaza.
I’m not going to discuss the conflict here. That’s not why you hit subscribe. I intend to fully respect the fact you came here to learn about “AI For Legal,” not my armchair four-star general hot takes about the Middle East conflict.
But staying heads down on AI has been a Herculean challenge. October was going to be busy regardless. I kicked off several new engagements this month and everything I’m doing right now is AI focused. I didn’t have the luxury of telling clients, “Sorry there’s a war, I’m having a hard time staying on task.” If anything, I wanted to make it clear that, come hell or high water, you will never regret working with a team based in Israel. Now, it’s one thing to focus on work as I hear explosions all around me; it’s another to have to break for funeral processions for young people aged 19 and 20 from my neighborhood who were killed in action.
But the fact that I’m spending so much time researching AI developments in particular, has made compartmentalizing so much harder. Here’s why: AI represents a bright future. It represents incredible accomplishments of humanity. It celebrates entrepreneurs, scientists and all those who contributed to the content on which LLMs have been trained. AI has been a B-12 shot injected right into the buttocks of the economy. As so much else crumbled around us this last year, AI reminded us how awesome it is to be human.
But the atrocities of October 7th brought a cloud of darkness. They reminded me of hate and savage barbarism that has existed for thousands of years without break. It has reminded me that, even with all of our advancements — all of our ChatGPTs — we still must fight wars. It has made me depressed about the future, and our inability to really achieve any kind of meaningful progress as a species.
Anyone who follows my content knows my energy, enthusiasm and (some would say) unbridled optimism (dare I say breathlessness) for AI and for human progress. I will remain hopeful and optimistic. But I’m not going to lie, over the last month, it’s been a real challenge. Here’s hoping humanity can somehow get back on track.
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