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AI Revolution: Israeli Leaders Discuss Potential Risks and Rewards in Historic Knesset Round Table

JERUSALEM - June 12, 2023 - A group of AI and tech experts, including Tomer Gal, Founder and CTO of OpTeamizer, convened for a crucial discussion on the potentials and risks of artificial intelligence (AI) at the Knesset Science and Technology Committee's meeting on June 12. This meeting, part of Israel's ambitious bid to pioneer the AI revolution, included prominent figures from the Israeli tech industry, the Israel Innovation Authority, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and the Knesset.



Ziv Katzir, Head of the National Program for AI Infrastructure at Israel Innovation Authority, detailed AI's manifold benefits. These advantages span from improving crop yields, streamlining logistics warehousing, accelerating drug development, and optimizing electrical networks. AI also shows potential in early fault detection, fraud prevention, personalized teaching, and conversational interfaces. According to the Global AI Index, Israel stands fifth, although Katzir highlighted two pressing weaknesses: long-term infrastructure creation and state planning.


However, the Israel Innovation Authority is aggressively addressing these issues. Katzir outlined the state's role in infrastructure integration in the public sector, regulation, and an initially budgeted 517 million shekels in 2021-2022 for the National Artificial Intelligence Program. The program's scientific advisory committee, including Gal Chechik, Director of AI at NVIDIA, suggests a promising path towards progress. Furthermore, the 2023-2024 budget of approximately 500 million shekels will continue supporting these AI-centric initiatives.


Idan Bezalel, representing the Ministry of Defense - Directorate of Defense Research & Development (IMOD DDR&D) (MAFAT), spoke about the IDF's efforts in harnessing AI where the human brain falters in data collection. He emphasized the importance of setting up edge computing, natural language processing, and deep involvement in the field of Explainable AI, whereby decision-making processes of AI models are studied. Bezalel also acknowledged the ethical and regulatory risks involved in AI, emphasizing the necessity of human involvement in AI decision-making within the Israel Defense Forces.


The assembly also spotlighted AI's implementation in government services, with the current budget of around 120 million shekels earmarked for the cause. The Israel Employment Service, which utilizes AI to match job seekers to jobs, exemplifies this implementation. The goal is to extend AI tools usage among state employees, including those responding to public inquiries.


Addressing AI in the financial sector, Attorney Amir Wasserman, General Counsel and Head of the Legal Department at the Israel Securities Authority (ISA), shared his insights on bias prevention in credit provision.


Mark Fagan, a Harvard Professor specializing in the Autonomous Vehicles field, shed light on the issue of data privacy. Fagan pointed out potential industries on the brink of extinction due to AI advancements, like traditional garages, expected to decrease significantly due to fewer accidents caused by autonomous vehicles.


This landmark meeting represents Israel's forward-thinking approach toward AI and its ramifications. Despite acknowledged risks and challenges, Israel appears to be taking the necessary steps to secure its position as a global AI revolution leader.


Following this meeting, Tomer Gal gave an interview with i24NEWS, expressing his perspectives on the swift developments in AI. He emphasized that AI is not just a single technology but a convergence of various sectors.

He stated, "It's in the focus and many kinds of divisions. You have the Israel Innovation Authority; the Ministry of Defense; the education sector; and the government."

These entities are not just studying AI but are actively exploring its benefits, risks, and budgetary considerations.

Tomer also expressed concern over the rapid proliferation of AI, saying,

"It's risky. Because eventually, you're going to have entities that are smarter than all of us, and you need to be able to control them."

He highlighted the potential of autonomous, self-replicating AI entities to pose unprecedented cybersecurity risks.


However, Tomer does not believe we are past the point of return. He expressed optimism over the continuous growth of the sector and the birth of advanced neural network models. While recognizing the potential complexities and challenges, Tomer stressed the need for constant innovation and focus on AI's safe and ethical development.


In concluding remarks, he called for a balanced approach to harness AI's immense potential while acknowledging its complexities. Tomer highlighted that, as a global community, we are collectively shaping the future of AI, and it's crucial to steer its development with foresight and thoughtful consideration.


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