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Key Israeli and UK figures working in artificial intelligence meet in London

Israel is a leader in the field with 430 AI start-ups

    Leading industry figures from Israel and the UK came together in London this week to discuss the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence.

    The Ninth Ambassadors’ Roundtable, organised by the Anglo-Israel Association, was held at the Royal Society, hosting academics and industry experts from both countries.

    Israel is one of the leading countries in technological innovation, and has over 430 artificial intelligence start-ups worth over $3.5 billion.

    Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, who opened the event, hailed “the strength and dynamism in the UK-Israel partnership”, describing how both countries were in the top 20 countries for innovation.

    Mr Regev noted how in 2017 the UK and Israel raised £6.9 billion in trade, a 25 per cent increase from the year before.

    He added: “Both countries understand that the future belongs to those who innovate.”

    Deputy UK ambassador to Israel, Tony Kay, said: “Ben Gurion [airport] has a revolving door for UK companies. Israeli innovation is making our businesses more effective.”

    The panel discussed issues surrounding the ethics of AI, the collection of personal data and the future of machine intelligence in our daily lives.

    Speakers included a number of Israeli CEOs from start-up tech companies who discussed how they used artificial intelligence to make their products "hyper-personalised" by using extensive data from their customers.

    Israeli company Pixoneye uses data from a user’s phone to tell a company of any major life-events, such as the user becoming pregnant or moving house.

    Kobi Freedman, co-founder of IDRRA, an Israeli cybersecurity company, gave a talk on the challenges facing companies trying to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. He warned the audience that “the ability to attack is far beyond the ability to defend,” adding: “It would be fair to say that the defenders are much more stupid than the adversaries”.

    Among the speakers from the UK, Kevin Warwick, dubbed the first "cyborg" for having a silicon chip implanted in his arm that could interact with his brain and nervous system, gave a talk on advances allowing computers to have "natural" conversations with humans.

    Ending the roundtable on a cautious note, Yoav Shoham, head of computer science at Stanford University, in the United States, said: “AI has a lot to be proud of, but we’re so far away from what we would call real intelligence.”

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