Will Google Fix Up On-the-Blink Israeli Intelligence Capability?

April 18, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Voyager Labs “value” may be slipping. The poster child for unwanted specialized software publicity (NSO Group) finds itself the focal point of some legal eagles. The specialized software systems that monitor, detect, and alert — quite frankly — seemed to be distracted before and during the October 2023 attack. What’s happening to Israel’s advanced intelligence capabilities with its secret units, mustered out wizards creating intelligence solutions, and doing the Madison Avenue thing at conferences? What’s happening is that the hyperbole seems to be a bit more advanced than some of the systems themselves.


Government leaders and military intelligence professionals listen raptly as the young wizard explains how the online advertising company can shore up a country’s intelligence capabilities. Thanks, MidJourney. You are good enough, and the modified free MSFT Copilot is not.

What’s the fix? Let me share one wild idea with you: Let Google do it. Time (once the stablemate of the AI-road kill Sports Illustrated) published this write up with this title:

Exclusive: Google Contract Shows Deal With Israel Defense Ministry

The write up says:

Google provides cloud computing services to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and the tech giant has negotiated deepening its partnership during Israel’s war in Gaza, a company document viewed by TIME shows. The Israeli Ministry of Defense, according to the document, has its own “landing zone” into Google Cloud—a secure entry point to Google-provided computing infrastructure, which would allow the ministry to store and process data, and access AI services. [The wonky capitalization is part of the style manual I assume. Nice, shouting with capital letters.]

The article then includes this paragraph:

Google recently described its work for the Israeli government as largely for civilian purposes. “We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial platform by Israeli government ministries such as finance, healthcare, transportation, and education,” a Google spokesperson told TIME for a story published on April 8. “Our work is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”

Does this mean that Google shaped or weaponized information about the work with Israel? Probably not: The intent strikes me as similar to the “Senator, thank you for the question” lingo offered at some US government hearings. That’s just the truth poorly understood by those who are not Googley.

I am not sure if the Time story has its “real” news lens in focus, but let’s look at this interesting statement:

The news comes after recent reports in the Israeli media have alleged the country’s military, controlled by the Ministry of Defense, is using an AI-powered system to select targets for air-strikes on Gaza. Such an AI system would likely require cloud computing infrastructure to function. The Google contract seen by TIME does not specify for what military applications, if any, the Ministry of Defense uses Google Cloud, and there is no evidence Google Cloud technology is being used for targeting purposes. But Google employees who spoke with TIME said the company has little ability to monitor what customers, especially sovereign nations like Israel, are doing on its cloud infrastructure.

The online story included an allegedly “real” photograph of a bunch of people who were allegedly unhappy with the Google deal with Israel. Google does have a cohort of wizards who seem to enjoy protesting Google’s work with a nation state. Are Google’s managers okay with this type of activity? Seems like it.

Net net: I think the core issue is that some of the Israeli intelligence capability is sputtering. Will Google fix it up? Sure, if one believes the intelware brochures and PowerPoints on display at specialized intelligence conferences, why not perceive Google as just what the country needs after the attack and amidst increasing tensions with other nation states not too far from Tel Aviv? Belief is good. Madison Avenue thinking is good. Cloud services are good. Failure is not just bad; it could mean zero warning for another action against Israel. Do brochures about intelware stop bullets and missiles?

Stephen E Arnold, April 18, 2024


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