Alan Aziz

Israel’s AI sector is its true intelligence service

From defence technology to gaming and bee husbandry, the start-up nation is buzzing


Artificial Intelligence Technology, OpenAI Conversation Automation

August 03, 2023 12:05

It’s hardly surprising, given its technological prowess, that Israel is nestled firmly on the world stage as an Artificial Intelligence “superpower”, as Defence Ministry director-general Eyal Zamir recently put it.

His focus, of course, is on advances in autonomous warfare and streamlined combat decision-making, such as the formation of a dedicated organisation for military robotics, an autonomous intelligence-gathering submarine, determining whether a target is military or civilian, operating drones and a record-high budget for related research and development.
But looking at Israel as a whole, you’d be hard-pressed to find an area of modern life not touched by AI.

Last summer the Israel National Digital Agency launched a national AI plan under the authority of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology aimed at developing and implementing AI in both the public sector and the economy.

And if national security on the battlefield is the priority for a country like Israel, it takes other areas of national security more commonly shared by the rest of the world just as seriously, too.

Technion alumnus Ronnen Armon is the Chief Products & Technologies Officer at Cellebrite, a startup that provides digital forensics tools that aid law-enforcement and intelligence agencies by extracting data from cellular devices securely and efficiently, all while maintaining evidence admissibility standards. In medicine, meanwhile, just last month the faculty and students from Technion’s Artificial Hub (Tech.AI) teamed up with Toronto University to develop working practices for “the medicine of the future”, while a novel AI-based system created by AudioCodes is helping paramedics save lives by transcribing poor-quality emergency phone calls in real-time — the first of its kind in the world.

Tuning out the environmental noises that accompany such calls (notwithstanding the stress of callers who are probably not speaking as clearly as they could be) the technology, having learnt the key phrases connected to medicine and emergencies, can extrapolate critical information such as location and an initial understanding of the medical situation.
Further, it can send messages to the relevant managers and set in motion automated actions, such as dispatching the correct teams to specific emergencies.

“Thanks to this system, we have managed to improve the response to civilians in distress — and to save lives faster and more effectively”, Magen David Adom’s director general, Eli Bin, has said.

“Magen David Adom, Israel’s National Rescue Service, stands at the forefront of technology with world-leading command and control systems that were developed within the organisation,” said deputy director general for community, Dr Eli Jaffe. “Today, we have taken another significant step by advancing new life-saving technology along with AudioCodes. Integrating AI allows us to improve the response to a patient in distress, to quickly and effectively understand the content of the call and to reduce the time needed to obtain the required details and dispatch teams to the field during an emergency call.”

While perhaps not causing the same “buzz” as a life-and-death situation, Israel also takes environmental concerns seriously, especially when it comes to the importance of protecting a steadily declining bee population — critical not only for the wellbeing of the bees themselves but one-third of the world’s food population.

Step forward BeeHero, the pollinator monitoring kingpin co-founded by Yuval Regev ­— an early adopter of the Global Hive Network, set up by the World Bee Project. BeeHero helps commercial farmers worldwide increase crop yield and quality by enhancing pollinator health by using smart hive sensors powered by AI to measure pollination quality in real-time, optimising hive efficiency.

Last by not least, there is simply no point in harnessing the power of AI if you can’t also use it for fun, which is what Wearable Devices, an Israeli startup co-founded by Technion alumnus Leeor Langer, is working hard to achieve. Thanks to the Mudra Band, an innovative wristband that allows the touchless operation of smart devices using hand movements, users can switch easily between connected devices such as Mac computers, Apple TVs, smart glasses and various gaming systems.

With all its benefits and, yes, concerns over what the future looks like with this constantly expanding technology, the day we let AI have all the fun is the day we really do lose everything to the machines.

August 03, 2023 12:05

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