NSO Group co-founder launches AI institute at top Israeli university

Source: The Record

The co-founder and former CEO of the company behind the powerful commercial spyware Pegasus has launched and will help lead a new artificial intelligence research institute at a premier Israeli university.

Shalev Hulio’s new project, known as the Institute, also will be supported by leaders from Microsoft and Nvidia and will be housed at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The goal is to promote Israel's “leadership in implementing artificial intelligence capabilities in the cyber, medical, finance and education industries,” according to a Ben-Gurion press release.

When the effort was announced last month Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel, joined Hulio at the launch event. Citing the new Ben-Gurion program,  Herzog said that “the reason countries do not boycott us is because of our human capital, the high-tech and the financial connections that they do not want to lose.”

“An initiative like this one is critical to our future and we will become the leaders in the field,” Herzog added. “I am committed to advancing it and supporting it to the best of my ability for the technological future of Israel."

Hulio has long been aligned with the Israeli government and in November asserted that the Pegasus software helped locate Israeli hostages captured during the October 7 Hamas raid. He stepped down as CEO of NSO Group in 2022.

The Institute will train CEOs of top companies in how to best use AI, according to the press release, which said an official from General Motors attended the launch event.

General Motors said through a spokesperson that it does not have a “formal relationship with the institute and no members of GM’s leadership team attended the event.”

A spokesperson for Hulio, who also launched the AI company Dream Security in November, said via email the former NSO CEO is “proud to be in the forefront of AI technologies.”

Company leaders will be “taught how to understand the effects of the artificial intelligence revolution and how to assimilate the technological capabilities it brings with it into the products and services offered to the companies' customers,” the press release said.

The Institute will build advanced AI research laboratories, including “supercomputing infrastructures,” in the coming months, according to the release.

The chairman of the Group 11 Venture Capital Fund Dovi Frances is joining  Hulio as co-founder and a leader of the project.

Editor's note: This article was updated on June 14 with comments from a spokesperson for Shalev Hulio and from General Motors.

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