Israel defends using AI database Lavender of alleged Hamas targets – UPI News

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April 7 (UPI) — Israel on Sunday defended its use of Lavender, an artificial intelligence software, in the collection and analysis of information about alleged Hamas targets ahead of military operations.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Nadav Shoshani’s remarks came in response to a report in The Guardian newspaper, which found that Israel used an AI database to identify 37,000 alleged Hamas targets. The left-leaning Israeli magazine +972 first reported Israel’s use of AI in a joint article with Local Call, its sister publication.

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“Lavender has played a central role in the unprecedented bombing of Palestinians, especially during the early stages of the war,” the +972 report reads. “In fact, according to the sources, its influence on the military’s operations was such that they essentially treated the outputs of the AI machine ‘as if it were a human decision.'”

The +972 report, which The Guardian confirmed, was also picked up in an analysis by The Washington Post, which wrote that the use of the technology “may explain the scale of destruction unleashed by Israel across Gaza.” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told CNN that the United States was looking into Israel’s use of the tool.

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“The Guardian article refers to a mere database that cross-checks existing information on operatives in terrorist organizations, similar to those used in other militaries. It is not a list of operatives eligible for attack,” Shoshani claimed on social media.

It is not immediately clear what distinction Shoshani is trying to draw, considering Israel has repeatedly expressed it claims the right to attack any Hamas target — thus a database that contains information of purported Hamas members would effectively be a list of potential targets.

“This database is designed to aid human analysis, not to replace it. IDF directives require all intelligence analysts to conduct independent analysis in the target designation process, while implementing IDF directives and international law,” Shoshani said.

“The IDF targeting process is an additional, separate process, which requires independent decision-making by commanders on whether to attack the target, every intelligence target requires the approval of an intelligence officer and a field commander.”

But Israeli intelligence officers who use the Lavender software and spoke to The Guardian questioned whether their own roles in the target selection process are meaningful.

“I would invest 20 seconds for each target at this stage and do dozens of them every day. I had zero added value as a human, apart from being a stamp of approval. It saved a lot of time,” one officer said, as another said they were “constantly being pressured” by higher-ups to bring more targets.

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