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 Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey