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Israel developing national A.I plan in order to foster growth

There is a global race for new innovation, especially in the field of AI which has taken a life of its own. Phone companies and companies in the field of producing electronics have added the technology to many of their products and it’s predicted that the trend will continue, especially as countries such as European Union, China, United States of America and the United Kingdom have entered the foray by implementing regulations to govern the development of artificial intelligence. With the digitization of the world, going in the direction of superior technology is to be expected, and now Israel wants to be a part of that race. 

According to Moshe Karako, CTO at NTT Innovation Laboratory Israel, “Israel’s government should take active measures to create and promote artificial intelligence research and implementation by creating dedicated funds, innovation hubs, and international collaborations, the same as it’s done for cyber security.” And indeed the country has heeded the proclamations of the people in taking A.I seriously. 

The latest findings put Israel at 20th place in terms of A.I readiness, which was published by the researchers at Oxford Insights. In order to enhance their country’s A.I readiness, Israel will produce a plan that will promote A.I. research and development. 

Their up-and-coming strategy will update the existing national AI program which was launched in 2020 which never really took off due to the lack of a state budget, and negotiations are currently underway in order to secure funding for their upcoming strategy. Though, despite the fact that a budget is still in the works, the Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman have agreed upon the necessity of such a plan and are in full support of the Israeli government’s intentions. 

According to the statement which publishes the nation’s plans, the government is aiming to present the budget to parliament for approval in September and will be included in the state budget for 2023 – 2024. 

Farkash-Hacohen stresses the importance of this plan by saying, “Artificial intelligence is the infrastructure for the future of Israeli science and hi-tech. The artificial-intelligence market is growing by about 20 percent every year and in the coming years will even reach half a trillion dollars. Many countries around the world are investing huge sums in the field, and we must make sure that Israeli hi-tech continues to lead for years to come.”

Israel has been known for their rapid innovation in the field of tech, but have lagged behind in the brand of AI innovation, and the government is now attempting to remedy this in order to reinstate Israel’s reputation as a leader in tech. 

In the early days of tech adoption, Israel led the foray into digital revolution and came out on top with winning telecommunication technology and top notch programmers, giving them a strong advantage over the rest of the global market. They were considered “a superpower in communications, security, data storage, and semiconductors” and had become a hub for entrepreneurs wanting to kickstart their innovative companies. Today, the nation is reinvigorating there to close the gap that has grown in the absence of innovation. If all goes according to plan, we should be seeing innovative frameworks and technological advancements in leaps and bounds. 

The Science and Technology Minister continues by saying that, “My ministry, together with other partners in the government, will formulate a plan that will address the gaps that exist today to promote artificial intelligence in academia, R&D and industry. This is also a strategically important decision that will generate a lot of income for the Israeli economy.” The economy which has been wrecked by the two year lockdown will stand to benefit from this plan as it will create more job opportunities for the unemployed in Israel as well as place the nation on a more even playing field in the world of modern technology.

The plan will extract the strategies from its predecessor, which was commissioned by the former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Written by the National Initiative for Secured Intelligent Systems, and co-authored by Prof. Eviatar Matania and Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel. Professor Isaac Ben-Israel was only responsible for Israel’s National Cyber Initiative which was “implemented in 2011, and laid the foundation for Israel’s cyber revolution during the past decade.” Once the plan is finalized, it is set to be published in June.

However, as forewarned by the chief scientist and the chairman of the board of Israel Innovation Authority, Ami Appelbaum, back in 2020, “… There will be things that won’t be accomplished if there is no state budget. If this continues into 2021 we will have to figure out how much we want to allocate to AI. Clearly, it will be of a low and insufficient magnitude.”

Taking Israel’s new AI strategy and enacting it will take a lot of motivation on the government’s part and funding is a big part of the puzzle that needs to be addressed in order to bring it to actualization. 

About the Author
Justin Doebe is the President of Nevelis Media. Justin is interested in Israel's startup ecosystem and aims to share his insights learnt from expanding to and managing business in Israel.
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