Ex-Mossad head: AI facial recognition tech superior to fingerprinting

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen on Monday emphasized the importance of facial recognition technology in the fields of counterterrorism and law enforcement.

A computer with an automatic facial recognition system shows German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, center right, as he visits the Suedkreuz train station in Berlin (photo credit: REUTERS/MARKUS SCHREIBER/POOL)
A computer with an automatic facial recognition system shows German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, center right, as he visits the Suedkreuz train station in Berlin
(photo credit: REUTERS/MARKUS SCHREIBER/POOL)

Former Mossad chief and director of Tokyo-based holding company SoftBank's Israel operations Yossi Cohen on Monday emphasized the importance of facial recognition technology in the fields of counterterrorism and law enforcement, saying currently-used fingerprinting tech is insufficient for identifying threats.

"Governments and corporations around the world today face security threats everywhere - within the organization's facilities, on the street, in the face of threats of damage and theft and of course in the face of national security threats. Facial recognition is a key tool for dealing with these threats," Cohen said at a conference for AI company Oosto in Raanana.

He explained that although biometric identification using fingerprints is accurate, it requires the cooperation of the suspect, who is likely aware of the technology. "When the collection is done physically - it just does not work," he added.

A potential alternative to this technology is artificial intelligence-based facial recognition. Oosto's solution uses CCTV cameras to monitor public transportation, retail stores and border crossings and is compatible with a range of other devices, including ones that don't yet exist.

Several major casinos in Las Vegas are already using Oosto's technology to monitor their premises for security threats, Oosto Israel and Central Europe Sales Manager Ofer Schmidt said.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen marks the agency's ending its coronavirus-related activity (credit: Courtesy)Mossad head Yossi Cohen marks the agency's ending its coronavirus-related activity (credit: Courtesy)

Oosto CEO Avi Golan said that"Oosto provides machine vision capabilities, Vision AI and facial recognition tech to airports, football stadiums, banks, casinos, retail giants and law enforcement agencies around the world. It is a huge and fast-growing market."

Golan noted that the company has amassed investors, bringing in $235 million USD in its last round of fundraising.

SoftBank's logo is pictured at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 4, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON/FILE PHOTO)SoftBank's logo is pictured at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 4, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON/FILE PHOTO)

"I had the privilege of serving as an operating-partner [sic] at Softbank and getting to know firsthand the exciting vision of Softbank founder Masa San, regarding the AI revolution we are in the midst of," he said. "Softbank's stated strategy is to locate and invest in companies that will become category leaders after the AI revolution."