AI by the numbers, May 2019

AI optimists drive enterprise adoption

US federal government contract obligations and AI-related investments grew almost 75% to nearly $700 million between fiscal 2016 and 2018 [Federal News Network].

85% of US CEOs and business leaders are AI optimists; 87% are investing in AI initiatives this year; 82% expect their businesses will be disrupted by AI to some extent within the next three years; 29% said AI will disrupt more than half of their business; 47% see China as the biggest obstacle to the advancement of AI in the US; 33% say employee trust is one of the greatest barriers to AI adoption [EY].

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AI by the numbers, April 2019

Enterprise adoption and attitudes: Some progress, some FOMO

25% of businesses surveyed have implemented cognitive technologies such as AI or machine learning, either as pilot projects or as long-term strategies; 41% are using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) extensively or across multiple functions, 26% of respondents are using robotics, 22% are using AI; 64% saw growth ahead in robotics, 80% predicted growth in cognitive technologies, and 81% predicted growth in AI (Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends).

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Why Israel is the leader of the $100B medical marijuana market

Cannabis plant, BOL Pharma, Israel

Opening the CannaTech conference earlier this month, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak quipped that Israel is now the “land of milk, honey and cannabis.” Given the recent performance of the cannabis-related stocks traded on the Tel-Aviv stock exchange (Barak is Chairman of InterCure whose stock appreciated 1000% in 2018), are investors getting high on nothing more than a buzz bubble?

Behind the buzz about “marijuana millionaires,” Yuge market potential, and volatile stocks (InterCure’s stock nearly tripled earlier this year but is now 25% off its peak), is a serious 55-year-old Israeli enterprise of pioneering interdisciplinary research into the medical benefits of cannabis. Supported by a perfect climate for growing cannabis, it has led to a very supportive climate—academic, regulatory, and entrepreneurial—for developing botanical-sourced pharmaceutical-grade products. Like the rest of the world, Israel has considered cannabis (and still does) to be a “dangerous drug,” but unlike the rest of the world, it has not let the stigma deter its insatiable curiosity about cannabis’s therapeutic potential.

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Deep Learning Algorithms from Zebra Medical Vision Provide Accurate and Timely Interpretation of Medical Images

“The past fifty years,” says Dr. Eric Topol in Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Medicine Human Again, “have introduced important changes to radiology. As the medium moved from analog to digital… the whole process, extending from films to CT, PET, nuclear, and MRI scans, has been made more efficient. Except the interpretation.”

Dr. Topol quotes studies suggesting that errors in interpretation of medical scans “are far worse than generally accepted,” with false positive rates of 2% and false negative rates over 25%. As a result, 31% of American radiologists have experienced a malpractice claim, “most of which were related to missed diagnoses.”

The rapid advances in computer vision due to the application of AI starting in 2012, have led to predictions of the imminent demise of radiologists, to be replaced by better diagnosticians—deep learning algorithms. Geoffrey Hinton, one of this year’s Turing Award winners and a major contributor to the astounding success of deep learning, suggested in 2016 that “People should stop training radiologists now. It’s just completely obvious that in five years deep learning is going to do better than radiologists.” In the same year, an article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology warned that “The ultimate threat to radiology is machine learning. Machine learning will become a powerful force in radiology in the next 5 to 10 years and could end radiology as a thriving specialty.”

While Dr. Topol believes that eventually all medical scans will be read by machines, he argues that radiologists can have a bright future if they “adapt and embrace a partnership with machines.” Eyal Gura, co-founder and CEO of Zebra Medical Vision, agrees: “AI can help doctors get to the right place quickly and make the right decision.”

For the last 5 years, Zebra has helped doctors make the right decisions by developing deep learning algorithms for interpretation of medical images, working with data and research partners to train and improve the algorithms and validate their efficacy, and integrating Zebra’s products with the workflow of practicing radiologists.

Gura’s vision is that Zebra will help “automate every visual aspect of medicine,” going beyond radiology to pathology, dermatology, dentistry, and to all situations where “a doctor or a nurse are staring at an image and need to make a quick decision.” This “automation” does not mean replacing doctors. Rather, it means the augmentation of their work, providing consistent and accurate assistance. “We need all the doctors we have in the world and we will need 10X more because of the aging population,” says Gura.

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OurCrowd, most active Israeli venture investor, leads a restructuring of startup funding

Medved Photo Full

Jon Medved, Founder and CEO, OurCrowd

The venture capital industry is under attack. Prominent VC firm Andreessen Horowitz is “blowing up the venture capital model,” transforming itself into a “financial adviser” so it can beat “antiquated rules about what is and isn’t a ‘venture capital’ investment.” The customers are also dissatisfied: VC funding isn’t right for most startups says founder Bryce Roberts, voicing the concerns of a growing number of entrepreneurs who are “jaded by the traditional [VC] playbook.“ And millions of participants in the stock market (about half of U.S. households own stocks) watch haplessly as a number of “unicorns” finally go public this year, “after large gains have been captured by elite early investors.”

Israel’s most active venture investor, OurCrowd, answers these grievances with its twin goals of democratization and globalization of startup funding. “Venture capital has been the most esoteric, the most exclusive investment activity in the world,” says Jon Medved, OurCrowd’s founder and CEO. In 2013, he founded OurCrowd as a new type of venture investment platform, following VC best practices but providing global, worldwide access—to individuals looking to invest in startups and to entrepreneurs looking for venture funds.

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Ranking of Social Networking Sites, January 2018


Source: Statista

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How to Make Smart Cities Cybrsecurity Resilient


By 2050, about 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. Using the Internet of Things, analyzing lots of data, putting more services online—all herald the digital transformation of cities. Becoming digital, however, means a new life in the cybersecurity trenches.

There is no place like Israel to teach local government leaders how to make their cities and citizens cybersecurity resilient. Welcoming attendees from 80 countries to the Muni World 2018 event in Tel-Aviv, Eli Cohen, Israel’s minister of economy and industry, highlighted the fact that the country represents 10% of the global investment in cybersecurity. And it shares its expertise with others, including alerting 30 countries to pending cyber or terrorist attacks, Cohen said. (I was attending the event as a guest of Vibe Israel).

Cybersecurity is a prerequisite for the smart city, argued Gadi Mergi, CTO at Israel’s National Cyber Directorate. That means pursuing security, privacy and high-availability (having a cyberattack recovery plan, backup facility, cloud management, and manual overrides) by design. As other presenters discussed at the event (see the list of presenters below), smart cities must adjust and adapt to the requirements of the new cybersecurity landscape, characterized by:

The expansion of the attack surface with the introduction of new points of potential vulnerability such as connected and self-driving cars, and the Internet of Things (71% of local governments say IoT saves them money but 86% say they have already experienced an IoT-related security breach);

A wider range of attacker motivations, including ransomware (it was the motivation behind 50% of attacks in the US in 2017, with ransom payments totaling more than $1 billion) and hactivism (drawing attention to a specific cause, adding cultural and political dimensions to cyberattacks);

Increased consumer concern about personal data privacy and loss (30% of customers will take action following a data breach—demand compensation, sue or quit their relationship with the vendor);

Not enough people with the right expertise and experience (the much talked-about cybersecurity skill shortage is exacerbated in municipalities which find it hard to compete for scarce talent with organizations with much deeper pockets; this challenge becomes even more severe with the introduction of new approaches to cybersecurity involving new tools based on machine learning and artificial intelligence);

Insisting on fast time-to-everything (Agile is not agile enough) results in reduced quality of cybersecurity applications.

What’s to be done about meeting these challenges? Here’s a short list of priorities for leaders of smart cities worldwide, based on the presentations at Muni World:

Prepare for the worst—develop a protection strategy and emergency plans, and get outside experts to help;

Practice—training and testing and more training and testing and simulations;

Automate—implement a continuous adaptive protection, automate the process of detection and response, apply algorithms liberally, including AI and machine learning–based solutions;

Upgrade—keep up with attackers’ new methods and tools, improve the state of hardware and software including leveraging the cloud and big data analytics and invest in elevating the skill level of the people responsible for cybersecurity defense;

Share—raise public awareness, disclose your experiences, and exchange information with other local governments;

Separate and disinfect—insert a virtual layer between the internal network and the internet, allowing only for sending commands and showing display windows, and make downloadable files harmless by deleting areas where programs may exist or transform them into safe data, regardless if they are malicious or not.

In addition to Eli Cohen and Gadi Mergi, other presenters at Muni World included Jonathan Reichental, CIO, City of Palo Alto, California; Roy Zisapel, co-founder and CEO, Radware; Menny Barzilay, Co-founder and CEO, FortyTwo Global; Morten Illum, EMEA VP, Aruba/HPE; Takahiko Makino, City of Yokohama, Japan; Yosi Schneck, Senior VP, Israel Electric Corporation; and Sanaz Yashar, Senior Analyst, FireEye.

Tamir Pardo, the former Director of the Mossad (Israel’s national intelligence agency), also spoke at the event, comparing the cyber threat to “a soft and silent nuclear weapon.” There is no way to stop a penetration, he said, and there will never be a steady state for cyber security.

Meaning life in the cybersecurity trenches, for local governments and all other organizations, will continue to get very interesting. To quote FireEye’s Sanaz Yashar (who quoted President Eisenhower), “plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

Originally published on

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