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Shimon Peres calls for tech to leverage infantry

Appealing to an audience of inventors at the Launch conference, the president of Israel suggested they could both help Israel and take advantage of its resources.

Israel's President Shimon Peres appeals to entrepreneurs.
Rafe Needleman/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Shimon Peres, president of Israel, continued his high-profile swing through Silicon Valley by speaking at the Launch Conference this morning. Speaking to an audience of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, he made the case for working in Israel and appealed to the entrepreneurs to create technological goods and services that could help humanity, and Israel itself.

The country of Israel, he said, "had nothing. No water, no oil, no resources." He said that the only true resource in the country was, and is, the people. That has made for a highly technological society. Israel has more scientists per square mile than any other country, he said.

The combination of a hard land and technology has led to unique solutions, he said. "Today we have the best agriculture on Earth. It's almost entirely technological." Meanwhile, he said, people in neighboring countries are starving.

The conversation on stage, led by conference organizer Jason Calacanis and Israeli investor Yossi Vardi, naturally turned to defense. Extending on the technology theme, Peres said, "We have to be superior by fighting terror with superior technology. We have an air force of planes without pilots," he said. "Eventually you could have an infantry without soldiers."

He pointed to the audience of inventors. "It's in your hands," he said.

While Peres was on stage, the country's chief scientist, Avi Hasson, joined the discussion to remind the audience that he has a $500 million annual budget ("highly leveraged with private partnerships") for development of technology in the country.