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Liberal Alphabet Series: Universal AI Uprising – A revolution for Private and Public Sectors?

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On Tuesday, we hosted the next part of our Liberal Alphabet series. Dedicated to the letter U, we spent an evening discussing the Uprising of AI! After a welcome notice by FNF Director Kristof Kleemann, Program Manager Kevin Awkar gave a short introduction before handing over to the moderator of the night, Rawad Taha, Website Editor in Chief & Television News Reporter at LBCI and News Reporter at France 24 English. Rawad introduced the two panelists: Manal Jalloul, CEO of AI Lab Beirut, shared her experience from working on AI in the private sector, whereas Dr. Carole Charabati, Managing Partner at Siren Analytics and Research Director at Siren Associates, gave insights on AI in the public sector.

Our goal for the evening was to discuss the topic of artificial intelligence from a liberal perspective. To begin with, the discussion partners shed a light on the beginning of AI back in the beginning of the 2000s. Since then, tech companies have heavily invested in the research on and use of AI, even without the public really being aware of it: for example, platforms and providers such as Google, Facebook or Instagram have been working with AI for a long time. However, only recently AI has really come to the surface of public awareness due to ChatGPT.

Obviously, AI has a high transformative potential that can be considered an “AI revolution”, but there is more potential to it for the public and private sector: This groundbreaking technological advancement holds the promise of equal opportunities for all to access and benefit from the transformative capabilities of AI technologies.  Hence, it was agreed upon that a solution for better AI implementation and adoption in Lebanon is urgently needed: Problems faced include a lack of respective infrastructure and lack of access to data. For example, public data sharing platforms could help with a wide range of problems Lebanon is facing, such as detect corruption or draft policies.

Data is widely argued to be the new gold. Therefore, we discussed with the panelists how this affects the public and the private sector and how they can make use of AI, especially taking into account the current economic crisis. Embracing AI within the private sector can transform operations, customer experiences, and boost productivity through machine learning and natural language processing. Similarly, the public sector in Lebanon can undergo significant changes with AI implementation. Healthcare can improve, education can be revitalized with intelligent tutoring systems, and sustainability efforts can be supported through optimized energy consumption and efficient resource management. Overall, AI has the potential to bring progress and prosperity to Lebanon, fostering innovation and equality.

The panelists strongly pushed for the improvement of public education on AI, especially in Lebanon, as they considered AI as a path for Lebanon’s economy to go forward. This includes programs and workshops for non-tech people which need to fit the special Lebanese circumstances: they need to be affordable for the general public and easily accessible even without stable internet connection or non-stop electricity. In this aspect, Manal pointed out her organization’s AI education program that caters these needs.

To summarize, the panelists stressed the importance of education on AI, ranging from private people to government officials for the implementation of a national AI strategy. They agreed that AI can help overcome the crisis: It can support in almost all areas of life, improve infrastructure and electricity, foster new ideas for innovators and startups that will open up jobs, provide grounds for new, urgently needed policies or make data accessible for various causes, for example to fight corruption. Most importantly: The time to move forward on AI for Lebanon is now.