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Israel to build supercomputer to keep pace in global AI race

Israel next month will launch a tender to establish the country’s first supercomputer to ensure the country remains a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the chief executive of the state-backed Israel Innovation Authority said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an AI conference, Dror Bin said that while AI has been a friend for Israel’s tech sector, it could turn into a foe without action given AI is a fast evolving technology.

He noted that the government is budgeting $250 million on a national AI programme comprised of government, industry and academia – 60% of which will be executed in 2024 and completed in 2027, possibly with higher funding.

Tech accounts for 20% of Israel’s economic output and the country is widely regarded as one of the largest tech centres in the world. Bin noted that of Israel’s 9,000 startups, more than 2,200 use AI and Israel – with 73 – has the third most generative AI firms in the world.

“Our goal is to make sure and to secure that Israel sustains its leadership, ranking and position in the AI race in the world,” he said.

Bin said that a supercomputer for training large artificial intelligence models was crucial in this regard.

“When a high tech company or researcher wants to train a large model they have to buy time in the cloud (since), there is no local data centre with significant amount of GPUs (graphic processing units) that can train those models here,” he said.

The supercomputer, Bin added, will be available for researchers and companies at lower than market cost. Reuters

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