Can Israel Lead the World in Artificial Intelligence?

Oct. 18 2018

Some experts believe that China and Europe are poised to get ahead of the United States, or at least catch up to it, in the development of cutting-edge uses for artificial intelligence. Gil Press suggests that a third country, Israel, is emerging as one of the most important innovators in this sphere:

Israeli artificial-intelligence start-ups (using technologies such as machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, natural-language processing, robotics, and speech recognition) have raised close to $2 billion in 2017, an increase of 70 percent over 2016, and have already raised $1.5 billion this year. An average of 140 start-ups have been created annually over the last five years and there are now over 950 active Israeli start-ups utilizing or developing AI technologies. . . . And there are notable success stories, . . . such as Intel’s $15.3-billion acquisition of Mobileye, [an Israeli company that makes the computer-vision technology used in some cars to warn of impending collisions], and Salesforce’s more than $800-million acquisition of Datorama, [which makes software that analyzes marketing data]. . . .

Shuly Galili, [an Israeli investor, observes that] “most Israeli entrepreneurs [honed their technological skills during their military service], which means that on average they have more hands-on experience working with artificial intelligence, image processing, data science, etc., than entrepreneurs from other countries.” . . .

Over 70 percent of Israeli artificial-intelligence startups are focused on business-to-business applications. The Israeli experience . . . in addressing infrastructure- and heavy-industry-related challenges may provide another competitive advantage [over other countries]. . . . “We’ve made it our mission to invest in start-ups tackling unsexy problems with really sexy technology,” says Galili. . . . The proven success and exciting potential embedded in the Israeli artificial-intelligence landscape have attracted leading industrial, consumer, and tech companies that have established major research-and-development centers in Israel in recent years.

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More about: Artifical Intelligence, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Israeli technology


The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics