Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic Texts Resurrected by Technology

As Moshe Koppel mentioned in his March essay for Mosaic, artificial intelligence has an impressive capacity to improve our ability to understand and interpret ancient Jewish texts. Etgar Lefkowitz explains a new application of this technology, developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU):

Engineering students at BGU are now employing Mask Language Modeling to get to the bottom of . . . centuries-old inscriptions which have been marred over time by earthquakes, fires, political conflicts, and other natural and human-related causes.

Previously, epigraphists encountered a major challenge in reconstructing the missing parts of such valuable writings, and had to use time-consuming manual procedures to make out an approximation of the missing content. Through the AI technique, the damaged content, whether single characters, partial words, single complete words, or multiple words, can be reconstructed more efficiently.

Students successfully tested the technology by taking hundreds of sentences from the Bible and applying them to corrupted inscriptions in Hebrew and Aramaic.

Read more at JNS

More about: Ancient Near East, Archaeology, Artificial intelligence, Manuscripts

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy