On February 21, 2018, a SpaceX Falcon 9 carried three satellites into orbit. The most significant one was the launch of the Beresheet (“In the beginning”) Moon Lander scheduled to land on the moon in April. It is the result of a nonprofit group named SpaceIL and as Yonatan Weintraub stated it is “going to be the first private inter-planetary mission that is going to go to the moon.”
So, instead of a superpower (United States) or the two secondary powers (Russia and China) landing a spacecraft on the moon it will be Israel and Israeli investors.
Who are these investors? Beresheet was paid for by the Israel Space Agency and SpaceIL started by billionaire Morris Kahn, who like Elon Musk, was born in South Africa, Sylvan Adams, and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson as well as other investors.
SpaceIL is an example of an exceptional institution founded and staffed by 200 members with 95% of them being volunteers. It has grown to nearly 250,000 pupils all over Israel. The Beresheet lunar Lander was built by Israel Aerospace Industries I expect to provide more information about SpaceIL as time goes on.
Morris Kahn and his family moved from South Africa to Israel in 1956. Kahn made his own fortune primarily with Amdocs one of Israel’s largest and established high-tech companies with 26,000 employees worldwide. He also is the founder of Coral World which has underwater observatories around the world. In 2017 he gave $1 million to the Genesis Prize Award Fund which was presented to actress Natalie Portman who regifted it announcing that it would be granted to programs focusing on advancing women’s equality in all aspects of human behavior.
Philanthropist Morris Kahn, Genesis Prize Laureate Natalie Portman, and Co-Founder and Chairmann Of the Genesis Project Prize Foundation Stan Polovets
Coincidentally, another name for the Moon Lander is Genesis.
Another large contributor is billionaire Sylvan Adams who in the last couple of years moved from Montréal Canada to the luxury apartment overlooking Tel Aviv beachfront property. His father, Marcel Adams, a Holocaust survivor began the family’s real estate empire and Sylvan grew it to the size it is today. His son Josh now heads Iberville Development (the real estate business).
Adams has always had a passion for sports and physical abilities. He is a co-owner of the Israel Cycling Academy. As a cyclist himself he has won international competitive awards in the sport. Margaret and Sylvan established the Margaret and Sylvan Adams Family Foundation for the support of educational and medical projects in Israel and in Canada. He donated $80 million for the purpose of bringing the Giro d’Italia to Israel.
Adams has always had a love for the Jewish people. He made a substantial financial and time commitment to the Young Men’s – Young Women’s Hebrew Association YM-YWHA which is now called the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA. To quote their press release:
As Mr. Adams stated, “The Jewish people are a gift to the world, having provided the foundational principles which shape our modern Western culture. In order for the Jewish people to continue to make positive, disproportionate contributions to the societies where we live, we need to keep our institutions strong. Since the Y is an integral part of the Montreal Jewish Community, it is my greatest pleasure to provide support in any way I can.”
Andrea Rosenbloom, President at the Y, stated that the Y’s Board of Director is completely aligned with Mr. Adams’s philosophy. “Our vision is securing Jewish continuity and now with Mr. Adams’ magnanimous gift, not only will our beloved Y survive, it will also thrive for future generations to come!”
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson
Sheldon Adelson was born in 1933 in Boston Massachusetts into a low-income family. He now lives in Las Vegas Nevada and is 85 years old. It is currently worth around $36 billion.
Adelson is quoted as saying “an entrepreneur is born with the mentality to take risks though there are several important characteristics: courage, faith in yourself, and above all, even when you fail, to learn from failure get up and try again.”
It is a born entrepreneur having started a business at the age of 12 when he borrowed $200 from his uncle and purchased a license to sell newspapers in Boston. At age 16 he borrowed $10,000 from his uncle to start a candy vending machine business he attended city College of New York, did not graduate and joined the Army by his mid-30s he had built and lost a fortune twice and over the course of his career is created almost 50 businesses of his own.
In the 1970s, Adelson and others developed COMDEX which became the top computer tradeshow of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1995 he and the others sold COMDEX in the related businesses to Softbank Corporation of Japan. Adelson made more than $500 million in the deal.
In 1988 Adelson and his group purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino of Las Vegas. The Sands is going on to build casinos and resorts around the world. The Singapore Marina Bay Sands includes the third most expensive building in the world. The Marina Bay Sands which opened in 2010 is said to have cost $5.5 billion.
For a couple of decades Sheldon has been involved in supporting politicians and was a major contributor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He tends to support Republicans because they align more closely to his love of business and of Israel. Sheldon and his wife Miriam gave, according to the press, $24 million toward the Beresheet Lander.
Dr. Miriam Adelson was born in Tel Aviv in 1945 after her parents had fled to Poland in 1945. As a young woman she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and then her medical degree at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical School. From there she became the chief internist in the emergency room at Rokach Hospital in Tel Aviv.
She married Ariel Ochshorn a physician and had two children with him. They were divorced in the 1980s.
In 1986 as part of an exchange program, she went to Rockefeller University in which he specialized in the medical aspects of drug addiction. While there she met Sheldon Adelson who became her husband in 1991. She founded a substance abuse center and research clinic and they opened the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G Adelson Research Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On November 16, 2018 Dr. Miriam Adelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her generous financial and humanitarian support.
Back to the launch. On Monday the 25th, Beresheet missed a planned maneuver. The spacecraft’s computer unexpectedly went into reset causing a maneuver to be automatically canceled. The ground control launch team went into fix-it mode and provided Beresheet with corrective measures and performed the maneuver putting the Lander back on track for landing which is now expected to occur on April 11.
In the meantime, the spacecraft will do a series of “phasing loops” that will raise the orbit until Beresheet can be captured by Lunar gravity. So for the next four weeks we will patiently anticipate a great event.
In July I wrote a post “NASA has Launched a sort of HAL-like Robot to help an Astronaut on the ISS” about the cool new floating robot the European Space Agency (ESA) sent to the ISS. Its name is CIMON (pronounced Sigh Mon) and it was fun to watch and speculate about how it would help astronauts in the future.
It has now been six months and there has been a potentially disconcerting change as CIMON matures. According to the Quartz publication’s Nicholas Rivero, CIMON has gotten a little testy for what is supposed to be a friendly helping assistant. Astronaut Alexander Gerst asked CIMON to play some of Gerst’s favorite music. Instead CIMON played a song called “The Man-Machine” which annoyed Gerst and he asked the robot to please stop playing.
Project Maven is an Artificial Intelligence system that assists human operators in finding objects of interest to the military. It is based on Machine Learning algorithms from very large databases of information. It is what the Department of Defense calls a “Pathfinder” meaning that is the beginning of a significant direction that the Pentagon has determined to go.
An example of a Project Maven user is the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). There are thousands of hours of video and pictures stored of information for their zones of operation. Commandos need specific information about their operations they can greatly be enhanced by the use of Artificial Intelligence. The Project Maven machine learning algorithm can be used to spot a specific kind of anomaly a huge database of information. Much of that requires visual recognition.
In September 2018 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it will invest up to $2 billion over the next five years. That announcement was made by DARPA director Stephen Walker saying that the agency was to explore “how machines can acquire humanlike communication and reasoning capabilities.” I first became familiar with DARPA in 1980 when it was known as ARPA when I was a regional manager for Research Inc. managing the Eastern United States for its computer terminal sales to universities and businesses. I became most familiar with ARPA when I became the North Central sales representative for GTE Telenet selling their X.25 product from Bolt Beraneck and Newman which was directly active with ARPA in its development. That was the direct forerunner to the Internet.
DARPA has said that the $2 billion with fund projects over and above the 20 AI projects the Pentagon has going now. (Google, the primary contractor for Project Maven has said they are pulling out of the program. Thousands of Google employees signed the petition for Google to get out of the project and top management caved in to that demand.) According to Peter Highnam, the deputy director of DARPA, “hundreds if not thousands” of schools and companies have bid “aggressively” on these programs.
There is a good chance that Microsoft and Nvidia, and maybe Amazon, will go after this business. Google’s AI software – Tensorflow – is being used by the US military drone program. Fortunately for everyone, Google made Tensorflow open source.
As of December 2018 the DOD who oversaw Project Maven leads its new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) which will coordinate AI research across the Department, government labs, and private companies. The goal of this is to speed up the process of getting AI tools to the war fighters.
There is a sense of urgency to this. China does not operate with the same legal constraints that the US has, and they can mandate that companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent must comply with the Communist Party’s wishes. We also don’t know how much technology has been transferred to the Chinese by American companies doing business in China. Russia is not a leader in Artificial Intelligence but it has a large base of students could be conscripted to train fairly fast.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum (IEEE) ran a Special Edition about Claude Shannon, which they called Tinkerer, Prankster, and Father of Information Theory in its April 1992 issue because he was so revered by the scientific community.
He was born in Petoskey, Michigan (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) to Claude Senior and Mabel Wolf Shannon. Both were smart and well educated.
At the age of 16 years, Shannon graduated from Gaylord High School. He had an inclination toward mechanical and electrical things. That year he entered the University of Michigan where he took a course that introduced him to the mathematics of George Boole. In 1936, at the age of 20, he graduated from UMich with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and mathematics. That same year he began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at MIT.
At MIT, he worked on Vannevar Bush’s Differential Analyzer an early analog computer. During this period Shannon designed circuits based upon George Boole’s concepts. In 1937, he wrote his master’s thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. But Shannon didn’t stop there.
Vannevar Bush suggested that Shannon should work on his doctoral dissertation at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a private nonprofit institution located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in order to develop Mendelian genetics. This resulted in Shannon’s PhD thesis An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics. He received his PhD degree from MIT in 1940.
From his work and logic circuits, he simplified the relays that were used in call routing switches, and proved that his circuits could solve the same problems that Boolean algebra code solve.
In 1940, he became a National Research Fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. This gave him the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with such people as Herman Weyl and John von Neumann. Occasionally he met with Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein.
SpaceX will announce its new BFR Rocket to take private passengers to the Moon and back tonight at 9:30 EDT. When I worked at Sperry Univac in Eagan, Minnesota we had a huge rock buried in the ground called a BFR (which meant Big F’ing Rock). SpaceX says it means Big Falcon Rocket but I’m betting it’s more akin to our famous BFR.
You can watch the announcement on YouTube here’s the link at 9:30 pm EDT tonight.
Elon Musk thinks on a grand scale. Google talks about “Moon Shots”, Elon does them.
For more than a year I have posited that Artificial Intelligence has a strong foundation in World War II cryptanalysis. Yet, in my research I have not seen discussions of this. If I am right and can show that my posit is true it may be of little or no importance. But, it may answer not yet asked questions. There is a string that goes through three of the founders of Artificial Intelligence and a modern scientist: Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, John McCarthy, and Ron Rivest.
Alan Turing and Claude Shannon were both cryptographers and Ron Rivest is a cryptographer. Alan Turing and Claude Shannon worked together for two months during World War II. John McCarthy and Ron Rivest were both Turing award winners. Claude Shannon was at the 1956 Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference founded by John McCarthy.
Additionally, Alan Turing and John McCarthy are both considered fathers of Artificial Intelligence and Claude Shannon is considered the father of Information Theory. Ron Rivest is an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the highest title that can be awarded to a professor at MIT. He is also Co-inventor of the RSA (cryptosystem) algorithm; founder of Verisign, and RSA Security. These have to do with public keys.
Alan Turing was born in June 23, 1912 and Maida Vale, London, England to Julius Mathison Turing and Ethel Sara Turing. The greater part of Alan’s elementary education was done at Sherborne School which origins date back to the eighth century. His brilliance is continually acknowledged in elementary as well as undergraduate school at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first class honors in mathematics. It was there that he invented Turing machines.
Among the things that Alan Turing became famous for his work at Benchley Park and breaking the Enigma code. In September 1938, he began working part-time with the GC&CS British code breaking organization. During that same period of time, the Polish Cipher Bureau created a machine with Enigma routers and in a Warsaw meeting in July 1939 presented the British and French with the wiring of their machine. The weakness of the Polish method was it depended on an insecure procedure that the Germans were likely to and did change in May 1940. Continue reading