Photo Credit: Ronny Horowitz / Google Doodle Contest
Google Israel

A new program to promote AI-related multidisciplinary research for the benefit of society was recently launched in a joint effort by Google and Tel Aviv University (TAU).

The program aims to support research and collaborations in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence that can advance humanity by addressing focal social issues on the global agenda.

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It was launched at a recent ceremony at the university, within the framework of TAD — the TAU Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science — established in February and headed by Professor Meir Feder of the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering.

Ten winners were announced for the three-year program out of 27 proposals submitted in response to the joint call for proposals by TAU and Google.

Seven of the 10 winning projects are supported by Google. The grant winners, whose projects address different aspects of ‘AI for Social Good’ include researchers from a wide range of disciplines: Zoology (Faculty of Life Sciences), Electrical Engineering, Economics, Statistics, Communication Disorders, Biblical Studies, Earth Sciences and Computer Science, Sociology and Anthropology and more.

TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat, who aims to establish ‘bridges’ between the different disciplines studied at TAU, said at the ceremony that he shares a “common vision” with Prof. Yossi Matias.

“We believe that AI researchers can benefit significantly from collaborations with researchers in the social sciences and humanities, just as the latter benefit from new developments in AI. I am very happy about our partnership with Google. I look forward to seeing its fruits and hope to expand it further in the future.”

Prof. Yossi Matias, VP at Google and Managing Director of Google Center in Israel, spoke of AI technologies and how they are already improving our lives dramatically. “AI already has great impact in various areas.

“We are delighted for this opportunity to harness the power of AI for social good and for science, “atias said.

“Google is especially happy about its work on beneficial and even lifesaving products, such as the worldwide project for accurate flood forecasting, a technology enabling the hearing-impaired to conduct phone conversations, and studies on the use of AI to enhance disease diagnosis.”

Matias thanked Professors Porat and Meir Feder — head of the TAD Center — and all other partners in the initiative. He spoke of the special opportunity to generate collaborations between researchers, and noted that he is a great believer in connections between different disciplines.

“There are some deep and fascinating research questions associated with AI in many different disciplines, creating substantial opportunities for collaboration. Good things happen when different ideas and different approaches come together.”

The joint venture will include a joint seminar on Machine Learning (ML), led by TAD Director Dr. Shimon (Moni) Shahar and Dr. Deborah Cohen, a scientist at the new Google Center in Israel.

Prof. Meir Feder emphasized that “the AI revolution is expected to impact every aspect of our lives, from drug development and data-based personalized medicine, to defense systems, financial systems, scientific discoveries, robotics, autonomous systems and social issues.

“In addition, it is very important to train human capital in this area, and therefore the Center will provide every student at TAU with a basic AI education.

“We are happy that Google has decided to join forces with TAU in this important matter. The collaboration with Google will enable utilization of the power of AI and Data Science, channeling it toward the benefit of society.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.