Israel’s Shin Bet spy service uses generative AI to thwart threats

Reuters  /  June 27, 2023

TEL AVIV – Israel’s Shin Bet security service has incorporated artificial intelligence into its tradecraft and used the technology to foil substantial threats, its director said on Tuesday, highlighting generative AI’s potential for law-enforcement.

Among measures taken by the Shin Bet – the Israeli counterpart of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations or Britain’s MI5 – has been the creation of its own generative AI platform, akin to ChatGPT or Bard, director Ronen Bar said.

“AI technology has been incorporated quite naturally into the Shin Bet’s interdiction machine,” Bar said in a speech to the Cyber Week conference hosted by Tel Aviv University. “Using AI, we have spotted a not-inconsequential number of threats.”

AI has helped streamline Shin Bet work by flagging anomalies in surveillance data and sorting through “endless” intelligence, he said, adding that the technology also had a secondary role in decision-making “like a partner at the table, a co-pilot”.

Acknowledging the public-domain backbone of the fast-emerging technology, Bar urged cooperation between commercial hi-tech and government agencies such as his “to ensure AI leads to evolution and not to revolution”.

With Israel still pondering its AI policies, Bar called for the expected regulations to include a review of Shin Bet-related laws as well as a redefinition of official secrecy.

Israel is considered a world-leader in AI, thanks to burgeoning computing and robotics industries that draw on talent developed in the technologically-advanced conscript military.

Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Conor Humphries