“Data is a Weapon, and Artificial Intelligence is the X-Factor”

Israeli army touts new focus on AI, noting that as a weapon it’s far cheaper than an F-35

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: IDF
The Israeli army has been using the real-time flow of data from sources like drones to keep troops in the field accurately updated. Photo: Michael Giladi/Flash90

A top Israeli general spoke on Tuesday at an online artificial intelligence conference hosted by Tel Aviv University, touting the IDF’s new focus on integrating data science and machine learning into its defensive systems.

Brig.-Gen. Aviad Dagan is the director of the IDF’s Digital Transformation Administration, and he sees big data, advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence as key to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge on the battlefield.

“Data and AI can actually win wars,” he told participants in the Blavatnik Virtual AI Week. “The speed at which we can create a new weapon is totally different from creating or acquiring a physical weapon like an F-35.”

The general added:

“With the introduction of artificial intelligence systems, advanced algorithms and machine learning, decisions will continue to be made by humans, but they will be more smart and accurate, and also faster. We have the data, which for all intents and purposes is a weapon. Applying artificial intelligence to it is the X-factor that will give us the upper hand on the battlefield.”

In practical terms this means processing massive amounts of data coming from all branches of the military and updating forces in the field, at sea and in the skies in real time, and in a synchronized manner. Obviously, the processing power needed to do this is massive.

Gen. Dagan said the IDF has gone to great lengths to build advanced data processing centers and to use this information to create a truly unified fighting force. “The data is flowing in from the infantry soldiers, from the naval ship and from the aerial drone, and is all being process by our data ‘factories.’ It all works together in an orchestral way, like concert musicians.”

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