The vast potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) struck me during a trip to Guangzhou, China before the outbreak of COVID-19. I was asked, as editor of The Jerusalem Report, to address a news conference of Chinese journalists in English. To my surprise, I noticed that my speech was being relayed by an AI app in real time on a screen behind me – with subtitles in Chinese.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Artificial Intelligence, which was established as an academic discipline in 1956, as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
“The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”Oxford English Dictionary definition of artificial intelligence
Israel and the world made great strides in the field of AI in 2022, which inspired us to make it the theme of this issue of The Jerusalem Report. AI apps, Wikipedia notes, include advanced web search engines (such as Google); recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon and Netflix); understanding human speech (such as Siri); self-driving cars; automated decision-making; and strategic game systems (such as chess).
In an article on the online publication Our World in Data at the end of 2022 titled “The Brief History of Artificial Intelligence,” Dr. Max Roser explains that rapid advances in AI capabilities have made it possible to use it in a wide range of new domains:
“When you book a flight, it is often artificial intelligence, and no longer a human, that decides what you pay. When you get to the airport, it is an AI system that monitors what you do at the airport. And once you are on the plane, an AI system assists the pilot in flying you to your destination.
“AI systems also increasingly determine whether you get a loan, are eligible for welfare, or get hired for a particular job. Increasingly they help determine who gets released from jail.
“Several governments are purchasing autonomous weapons systems for warfare, and some are using AI systems for surveillance and oppression.
“AI systems help to program the software you use and translate the texts you read. Virtual assistants, operated by speech recognition, have entered many households over the last decade. Now self-driving cars are becoming a reality.”
Israel: A trailblazer in artificial intelligence
Israel has become a trailblazer in AI, as it did in hi-tech in previous decades, earning it the venerable title, “Start-up Nation.”
A pioneer in this field was Waze, the driving navigation app established by Israeli entrepreneurs Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine, and purchased by Google for $1.3 billion in 2013.
In this issue, Maayan Hoffman interviews Levine ahead of the launch of his new book, Fall in Love with the Problem – Not the Solution, a Handbook for Entrepreneurs.
Levine believes that a problem should be the “North Star” of any successful start-up. “Let’s go back to 2007, when I founded Waze,” he explains. “If I had told you I was building an AI-based navigation system, to be frank, you would not have really cared. But what if I told you I am going to help you to avoid traffic jams? Now we have something to talk about.”
This issue also features articles by Hoffman on AI in Israel; Shana Fuld on hi-tech and the new Netanyahu government; Troy Fritzhand on AI firms to watch in Jerusalem; Liam Forberg on AI and art, and the fitness industry; and a report by Shlomo Maital on ChatGPT, the game-changing chatbot launched in November 2022. Maital asks it how to make peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. The bottom line of its lengthy answer is: “Engage in dialogue!”
Maital wonders if The Jerusalem Report could one day be written by ChatGPT. Despite our admiration for AI and its potential, my short answer is: Let’s hope not!