Digital Health, AI, and Israel

The global outbreak of the new Coronavirus brought to our attention an inconvenient truth about influenza: The seasonal flu kills between 291,000 to 645,000 people worldwide each year. Still, a December 2019 survey found that 37% of US adults did not intend to get a flu shot.

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AI by the Numbers: Data Privacy or AI Supremacy?

Recent surveys, studies, forecasts and other quantitative assessments of the progress and impact of AI highlight the confusion and contradictory attitudes of consumers about the privacy of their data, the impact of AI on jobs, and the race for AI supremacy.

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Ramon Llull and His ‘Thinking Machine’

In 1308, Catalan poet and theologian Ramon Llull completed Ars generalis ultima (The Ultimate General Art), further perfecting his method of using paper-based mechanical means to create new knowledge from combinations of concepts.

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Why It’s Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future

The year 2020 has been featured in many predictions and long-term visions in the past, implying not only the terminal point for the forecast or planning period but also a crystal-clear crystal ball. Now that the year 2020 is our present, we can clearly see where these prognostications went wrong and try to understand why they were so cloudy.

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AI by the Numbers: The Healthcare Industry is Ahead of Other Industries in AI Adoption?

Recent surveys, studies, forecasts and other quantitative assessments of the progress of AI highlight the increasing presence of AI in the healthcare industry, the assistance AI may provide in the future to workers’ cognitive tasks, and the continuing acceleration in data production and dissemination.

Healthcare AI statrups

Source: CB Insights

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Best of 2019: Bengio and Intel on Why AI is Not Magic

Yoshua Bengio speaking with Karen Hao at the EmTech MIT conference, September 18, 2019

Yoshua Bengio speaking with Karen Hao at the EmTech MIT conference, September 18, 2019

[September 20, 2019]

Asked what is the biggest misconception about AI, Yoshua Bengio answered without hesitation “AI is not magic.” Winner of the 2018 Turing Award (with the other “fathers of the deep learning revolution,” Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun), Bengio spoke at the EmTech MIT event about the “amazing progress in AI” while stressing the importance of understanding its current limitations and recognizing that “we are still very far from human-level AI in many ways.”

Deep learning has moved us a step closer to human-level AI by allowing machines to acquire intuitive knowledge, according to Bengio. Classical AI was missing this “learning component,” and deep learning develops intuitive knowledge “by acquiring that knowledge from data, from interacting with the environment, from learning. That’s why current AI is working so much better than the old AI.”

At the same time, classical AI aimed to allow computers to do what humans do—reasoning, or combining ideas “in our mind in a very explicit, conscious way,” concepts that we can explain to other people. “Although the goals of a lot of things I’m doing now are similar to the classical AI goals, allowing machines to reason, the solutions will be very different,” says Bengio. Humans use very few steps when they reason and Bengio contends we need to address the gap that exists between our mind’s two modes of thought: “System 1” (instinctive and emotional) and “system 2” (deliberative and logical). This is “something we really have to address to approach human-level AI,” says Bengio.

To get there, Bengio and other AI researchers are “making baby steps” in some new directions, but “much more needs to be done.” These new directions include tighter integration between deep learning and reinforcement learning, finding ways to teach the machine meta-learning or ”learning to learn”—allowing it to generalize better, and understand better the causal relations embodied in the data, going beyond correlations.

Bengio is confident that AI research will overcome these challenges and will achieve not only human-level AI but will also manage to develop human-like machines. “If we don’t destroy ourselves before then,” says Bengio, “I believe there is no reason we couldn’t build machines that could express emotions. I don’t think that emotions or even consciousness are out of reach of machines in the future. We still have a lot to go… [to] understand them better scientifically in humans but also in ways that are sufficiently formal so we can train machines to have these kinds of properties.”

At the MIT event, I talked to two Intel VPs—Gadi Singer and Carey Kloss—who are very familiar with what companies do today with the current form of AI, deep learning, with all its limitations. “Enterprises are at a stage now where they have figured out what deep learning means to them and they are going to apply it shortly,” says Singer.  “Cloud Service Providers deploy it at scale already. Enterprise customers are still learning how it can affect them,” adds Kloss.

Many of these companies have been using for years machine learning, predictive analytics, and other sophisticated techniques for analyzing data as the basis for improving decision-making, customer relations, and internal processes. But now they are figuring out what deep learning, the new generation of machine learning, can do for their business. Singer has developed what he calls the “four superpowers framework” as a way of explaining what’s new about deep learning from a practical perspective, the four things deep learning does exceptionally well.

Deep learning is very good at spotting patterns. It first demonstrated this capability with its superior performance in analyzing images for object identification, but this exceptional capability can be deployed to other types of data. While traditional machine learning techniques have been used for years in fraud detection, for example, deep learning is very powerful in “identifying remote instances of a pattern,” says Singer.

The second “superpower” is being a universal approximator. Deep learning is very good at mimicking very complex computations with great accuracy and at a fraction of the power and time of traditional computation methods. “Whatever you can accelerate by 10,000x might change your business,” says Singer.

Sequence to sequence mapping is the third exceptional deep learning capability. An example would be real-time language translation. Previously, each word was translated in isolation but deep learning brings the “depth of context,” adding a time dimension by taking into account the entire sequence of words.

Last but not least is generation based on similarities. Once a deep learning model learns how a realistic output looks like, it can generate a similar one. Generating images from text is an example. Another one is WaveNet, a speech generation application from Google, mimicking the human voice. Yet another example is medical records anonymization, allowing for privacy-preserving sharing, research, and analysis of patient records.

EmTech 2019 also featured MIT Technology Review’s recent selection of “35 innovators under 35.” A few of these innovators got on the list because they developed and demonstrated a number of practical and successful applications of deep learning. These included Liang Xu and his AI platform that helps cities across China improve public health, reduce crime, and increase efficiency in public management; Wojciech Zaremba, using deep learning and reinforcement learning to train a robot hand to teach itself to pick up a toy block in different environments; and Archana Venkataraman who developed a deep learning model that can detect epileptic seizures and, as a result, limit invasive monitoring and improve surgical outcomes.

There is no doubt that Bengio and Hinton and LeCun have created in deep learning a tool with tremendous positive social and economic value, today and in the future. But they—and other AI researchers—insist on the ultimate goal being the creation of “human-level intelligence” or even human-like machines. Why do these experts in machine learning refuse to learn from history, from seven decades of predictions regarding the imminent arrival of human-level intelligence leading only to various “AI winters” and a lot of misconceptions, including unfounded fear and anxiety about AI? And why aren’t goals such as curing diseases, eliminating hunger, and making humans more productive and content sufficient enough to serve for them as motivating end-goals?

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The Growing Export Business of Israel

It was a very good decade for Startup Nation. Since 2010, capital raising by Israeli tech companies has grown by 400% and the number of deals by 64%, reaching $8.3 billion in 522 deals last year. From 2010 to 2019, the number of exits has increased by 50% and exit value by over 800%, for a total value of $111.29 billion.

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