Israel must accelerate its AI capabilities.

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A common perception, especially among new immigrants, is that Israel is always 40 years behind the rest of the world. However, this was never the case with Hi-Tech.

Midreshet Ben-Gurion on Wednesday launched a joint national effort to increase Israel's competitive advantage in artificial intelligence.

Dubbed the “Institute”, this initiative is a game changer. It offers customized training programs tailored for corporate executives, aimed at equipping them with the tools necessary to navigate the changing impact of AI on the business landscape.

The initiative will catalyze Israel's leadership in implementing artificial intelligence capabilities in four core industries: cyber, health and medicine, finance and education.

The Jerusalem Post Correspondent Eve Young reports from the launch event.

A slogan on artificial intelligence (AI) is displayed on a screen at the Intel Pavilion during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum on January 16, 2024 in Davos, Switzerland.

Interviews, speeches and panels all focused on the importance of Israel stepping up to the plate as it enters the world of artificial intelligence.

AI wizz Yoav Shoham, speaking at The Institute, said that there have been relatively few real deployments of AI technology by companies in Israel so far, and that people still don't know enough about AI or understand what it means. How can it reduce their costs?

The slow but steady rise of AI?

He predicted that by the end of the year, the use of AI will become much more integrated.

Israel is a start-up nation, and our high-tech industry must get on top of this trend before we crumble.

“The reason countries don't boycott is because of our human capital, high-tech and financial links that they don't want to lose,” President Isaac Herzog said at the institute's launch. And they were right.

On of the Jerusalem Post At the annual meeting of women leaders, Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Gila Gamlil said her goal is to make Israel a leader in AI.

It aims to “put Israel at the forefront of research and development in artificial intelligence and advanced technologies,” he said.

But until now, there has been a lot of talk around AI and not much action. Of course, Israeli companies like AI21 are consolidating and moving quickly, but these are rare exceptions.

In January, a Salesforce report found that 93 percent of Israeli business leaders are deeply concerned about potentially missing out on the benefits of AI advancements.

Israelis, on the other hand, are quick to try out AI. A September Salesforce survey found that 49 percent of respondents had adopted generative AI in less than a year.

Still, the Israeli tech scene needs to maintain its position on the global stage. If we lag behind in AI, we lag behind in everything else. After all, Israel has seen a significant decline in investment in its high-tech sector over the past two years. Active Israeli funds fell by a third between 2022 and 2023, and foreign funds fell by more than 40 percent.

If the Israeli economy is to thrive, its limitless pool of talented computer scientists, engineers, and mathematicians must leverage their talents to drive AI innovation in the country.

This is not an easy feat, to be sure; After all, the industry is primarily populated by young men who, over the past seven months, have drafted waves into reserve service in the IDF during the Israel-Hamas war.

That being said, the government and its various authorities will have to find a way to help these companies move forward despite and because of this setback.

“Despite” because war is holding us back – “because of” because we need to win to overcome, and our high-tech industry is where the lead lies. After all, the industry brings an unprecedented amount of international cooperation and partnerships, and we need to foster these relationships to survive on the other side of this war.

Israel remains a startup country, but now, its startup industry needs state support. While this may seem like a setback, it is an investment. Israel's economic and reputational future depends on this success.

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