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.

Read more at Forbes

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


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy