Cutting edge Microsoft tech to search entire David Ben-Gurion archive

Cutting edge Microsoft tech to search entire David Ben-Gurion archive

Artificial Intelligence from the computer giant, in partnership with the university named after Israel's first PM, will reveal hidden relationships and themes of the leader


Photo Courtesy of David Marks
Ben-Gurion. Photo Courtesy of David Marks

A new and cutting-edge machine-learning programme from Microsoft is to be applied to tens of thousands of pages from David Ben-Gurion’s archives to reveal hidden relationships and themes.

The project, using pioneering Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to sift through the writings of Israel’s first prime minister, is a joint initiative between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Microsoft Israel.

The AI programme has only ever been used once before, on the similar-sized archive of documentation relating to the assassination of US President John F Kennedy, following its declassification in 2017.

Organisers said it will soon be able to search the entire Ben-Gurion archive, including printed and handwritten materials from his diaries and correspondence, which have been scanned, uploaded and made available to researchers in the last 20 years.

Microsoft’s AI system will identify “causal vectors, trace issues and ideas through multiple documents and illuminate relationships through an interactive map,” the University said.

“Such an in-depth assessment has been practically impossible given the quantity of materials and lack of searchability.”

Microsoft Israel and the Ben-Gurion Archive began piloting the project with Ben-Gurion’s international correspondence in English after the Six Day War in June 1967. BGU researchers and Microsoft Israel’s officials will present that pilot in Tel Aviv on Monday.

A second tool to be revealed will be a feature that integrates Ben-Gurion’s diaries into Outlook. “Users will be able to see his entries for that particular day and get a sense over time of how Israel’s most legendary leader made decisions,” BGU said.

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