Israel Update – Week of January 15, 2024
Artificial Intelligence: Time Magazine recently wrote, “In many ways, 2023 was the year that people began to understand what Artificial Intelligence (AI) really is – and what it can do.” What is Artificial Intelligence? How is it changing our world? Where does the U.S. stand in the global AI arena? And how does Israel fit in?
AI, in a nutshell, means giving computers the capability to learn and think like humans. Until AI, computers could perform well-defined tasks, such as “Calculate this spreadsheet” or “Tell me what the weather will be like this weekend.” AI is a qualitatively different way of doing business. AI can broadly be divided into categories: Weak AI performs specific tasks while Strong (or generative) AI has the ability to learn, think and perform new activities like humans.
Weak AI is very good at classification. It can look at a picture and find all the dogs. It can analyze a CT scan and find potentially pre-carcinogenic symptoms. It can even autonomously drive the car. AI is powered by a machine learning algorithm called “deep learning,” which uses millions of examples to train a “neural network,” a machine-learning algorithm. Neural networks learn by themselves, but they need to be “tweaked” by humans.
Strong – generative – AI is a giant leap from Weak AI. While generative AI also uses deep learning, the product of generative AI is fundamentally different from the product of Weak AI. Weak AI will tell you if that thing in the corner of the picture is a traffic light. Generative AI will draw you an oil painting of a traffic light with a Salvadore Dali motif.
Generative AI: DALL·E 3
The best example of this kind of generative AI is called “DALL-E 3.” According to its inventors, the OpenAI Group, “DALL·E 3 understands significantly more nuance and detail than our previous systems, allowing you to easily translate your ideas into exceptionally accurate images.” Its ability to create images is uncanny and sometimes downright creepy, such as “Darth Vader ice fishing” or “Ronald MacDonald performing open-heart surgery.”
One highly problematic example of this image creation is called “deep fakes” in which the faces and voices of one person are swapped for another. Deep fakes can create entirely original content where someone is represented doing or saying something they did not do or say. In Russian President Valdimir Putin’s 2024 New Year’s address, his neck seems, well, wrong (see for yourself), leading people to speculate that the entire address was a deep fake and that Putin was incapacitated.
Now that we know what AI is, we can understand why it is so critical for the U.S. to excel at AI. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. and China are engaged in a war for global AI dominance. The first problem we must address is that AI does not seem to be a commodity with limited availability. What does “winning the AI battle” entail?
The premise of there being enough AI to go around is only partially true. First, AI will have a profound impact on state power, mainly through economic growth and enhanced military capability. Second, global leaders in AI will set norms around its use and standards that will be used in its implementation (particularly data collection that could infringe on personal privacy), which will have, if China “wins this battle,” the entire world “doing AI” the Chinese way, which may not be amenable to American standards that are already proliferating in American companies.
On February 11, 2019, President Donald J. Trump launched the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, the U.S. national strategy for maintaining American leadership in AI, by signing Executive Order 13859. The initiative contains 6 components:
Invest in AI research and development.
Unleash AI resources including data and models.
Remove barriers to AI innovation.
Promote an international environment supportive of American AI innovation.
Embrace trustworthy AI for government services and missions.
Train an AI-ready workforce.
Item (4) makes a critical statement: The U.S. cannot go at it alone. U.S. AI leadership requires the assistance of its allies. This is where Israel comes in. Israel’s AI ecosystem is undergoing explosive growth, characterized by a major influx of research centers, establishments and talent, forming what could be considered one of the global leaders of AI over the next decade. Israel is a hotbed for AI talent, tracking at more than 4,000 developers, engineers and data scientists working on AI-related research, development and integration. All of this in a country of about 9 million. In 2019, Israel began offering financial incentives to encourage academic AI research. Between 2013-2022, Israel has the fourth highest number of AI startups (402) and amount of private investment ($11B) in the world, trailing only the U.S., China, and the U.K.
Collaborative academic research between the two countries is booming. In the past 5 years, the U.S. – Israel Binational Science Foundation has funded no less than 28 collaborative research programs in the field of AI and another 45 in the field of machine Learning. Researchers at Ariel University are working with their counterparts from Carnegie Mellon University, one of the leading American institutions engaged in robotics research.
Under the auspices of the Israel Innovation Authority, Israel is using AI to forward its leadership in “bioconvergence,” which fuses life sciences with an array of technologies from fields such as mathematics, engineering, and physical and computational sciences, creating a sum far greater than the total of all its parts. AI is a key enabler in bioconvergence. It is unsurprising that many Israeli startups specialize in the field of AI and life sciences. Here are a few notable examples:
BrainQ uses non-invasive, frequency-tuned extremely low frequency and low intensity electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) with the aim of promoting neurological recovery in the central nervous system (CNS). The AI-powered device tailors the electromagnetic field characteristics to suit each patient. BrainQ demonstrated their system to U.S. congressmen during the USIEA 2023 Congressional Tour.
Biolojic Design uses machine learning to create superior drugs by programming antibodies to become dynamic functional switches that affect biology in new ways. Biolojic uses their technology to design smart antibodies that affect these pathways more precisely and can succeed where traditional drugs have failed. Biolojic also demonstrated their system to U.S. congressmen during the USIEA 2023 Congressional Tour.
In June 2021, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced bipartisan legislation to create a U.S.-Israel AI Research and Development Center to further bilateral cooperation in AI.
The bill directs the U.S. Secretary of State, in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the heads of other relevant U.S. agencies to establish a joint U.S.-Israel AI Center in the United States. The Center will serve as a hub for robust research and development in AI across the public, private and education sectors in the two nations. In September 2021, Rep. Jake Auchincloss, (D-MA), Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Rep. Grace Meng (D- NY), Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. In March 2023, the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), floored H.R. 1777, “United States-Israel Future of Warfare Act of 2023,” that states, “It is the policy of the United States to support and encourage further defense collaboration with Israel in areas of emerging technologies that may enable the development of the warfare capabilities of the United States and Israel so as to meet emerging defense challenges, including with respect to the areas of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, directed energy, and automation.”
Israel and the U.S. can collaborate on artificial intelligence (AI) in various ways to leverage each other's strengths, foster innovation, and address shared challenges. Here are several ways in which collaboration can be facilitated:
Research and Development Partnerships
Joint Funding Programs
Talent Exchange Programs
Standardization and Interoperability
Ethical AI Development (see Israel’s policy on AI ethics and regulation here)
By fostering collaboration in these areas, Israel and the United States can strengthen their positions as leaders in AI innovation and contribute to the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies on a global scale. (This entire italicized section was written by ChatGPT in answer to the query: “How can Israel and the U.S. collaborate on artificial intelligence?”).
The data is unequivocal: Israeli AI research fills well-defined U.S. capability gaps. American companies and institutions for higher education have recognized this by opening up research centers in Israel and by teaming with Israeli universities to benefit from their expertise and their experience. The government is creating legislation to support collaboration.
There has never been a better time to promote joint US-Israeli AI research.