The next frontier: Israel taps AI and metaverse for aid in digital diplomacy


An Israeli diplomat giving greetings in eight languages ​​to a worldwide audience in their native language is just the beginning of how artificial intelligence can be used as a tool to enhance the credible practice of diplomacy.

Earlier this year, Ambassador David Saranga, head of the digital diplomacy division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, posted videos on Twitter in which his likeness delivered a message in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Persian, Greek, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish. Saranga doesn’t speak these languages ​​but he wanted to spark a conversation.

“I always wanted to communicate with you in Turkish, a language I heard in my childhood in my father’s house,” said Saranga’s likeness in the video about Turkey. “This is now possible thanks to Israel’s artificial intelligence technology, which allows me to speak in any language.”

Saranga was using a generative AI video program developed by Tel Aviv-based D-ID that can generate multilingual human digital avatars, making Israel one of the first countries to use AI in its digital diplomacy activities , according to the ministry.

“We understand that there is a revolution right now, that the whole digital sphere is changing,” Saranga said in The Times of Israel. “And so, we’re encouraging our people – and when I say our people I mean the embassies and diplomats and so on and so forth – to dive into the AI ​​world to see how we can use it for the community.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened its first Twitter account in 2009. Today, the Ministry maintains social media accounts in more than 50 languages, reaching approximately 2 billion impressions per year and providing a global reach significant for Israel during uncertain diplomatic times.

Saranga noted that the Persian content created by the Ministry on social media generated almost 450 million engagements in 2022, with 93% of those viewers from Iran itself at a time when there were mass protests following the death of Mahsa Amini on walk in the Islamic Republic.

However, Saranga said, the use of the metaverse – a virtual reality where users can interact with each other and the environment – and AI in digital diplomacy is still in its later stages. In 2022, the Israeli Embassy in South Korea opened a diplomatic mission in the metaverse, which it claimed was the first of its kind.

“These two areas of metaverse and AI, we’re still in the beginning,” Saranga said. “We are very advanced in delivering Israel’s message.”

To avoid the strict social media bans imposed by Iran, the ministry also turned to Instagram.

“There are many small businesses in Iran that are doing business through Instagram, that’s why the regime didn’t want to shut it down completely. So Instagram is the most important platform for communicating messages,” said Saranga.

The ministry claims it was one of the first in the world to join TikTok in 2022, where demographics tend to skew young. “When it comes to public diplomacy, you reach the community as soon as possible or you go to the community as soon as possible, which means even when they are teenagers, even before they make up their minds. And this was our idea at the beginning, that we also want to reach the younger generation, because they consume news on TikTok. “

Taking advantage of Israeli technology

Using the D-ID platform back in January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the Israeli startup for giving it the ability to communicate with audiences around the world in their native languages, pushing boundaries of traditional diplomacy.

“We know everyone is talking about #ChatGPT but we have officially found our next AI obsession,” the ministry tweeted.

Saranga’s Twitter videos, with their multilingual messages appealing directly to key allies in the diplomatic arena, were produced using the D-ID portraiture platform. The startup, founded in 2017, is among several viral projects at the heart of the AI ​​generation field by using text-to-video generation of digital presenters or avatars, and incorporating text and image generation.

Gil Perry, co-founder and CEO of D-ID. (Yoram Reshef)

“D-ID is a central building block in the global AI generation space,” said D-ID co-founder and CEO Gil Perry. The technology is a great gateway for new users to discover and experiment with AI tools in general and video AI in particular.”

D-ID is well aware of the potential dangers of such powerful technology, and says it adheres to ethical regulations established by the Partnership on AI and the Content Authentication Initiative.

“To prevent the spread of incorrect information, we use specialized third-party detection algorithms and software,” Perry said. “We add digital watermarks to all videos produced on our platform to make it clear that the image is computer generated.”

Yaniv Levi, VP of product marketing at D-ID. (Eyal Regev)

Yaniv Levi, vice president of product marketing at D-ID, told The Times of Israel that limits have been placed on the type of content that can be uploaded to the speech portrait technology, including prohibitions on nudity, profanity, and the use of famous politicians. ‘ similarities.

In addition, D-ID said it is “committed to using powerful technology for ethical, positive purposes,” including social impact campaigns, such as raising awareness about issues such as domestic violence, HIV, and Holocaust education.

D-ID is also making inroads into the metaverse, where users can create avatars to interact in the virtual world.

“We are ready for a metaverse. Our products are already being used there, primarily for educational purposes,” said Perry. “Looking ahead, we aim to continually improve the quality and control users have over the digital personas they create.”

This month, D-ID unveiled a platform that allows users to simulate a face-to-face conversation with AI-generated digital people.

You are a dedicated reader

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and Jewish life.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we have not put up a pay wall. But because the journalism we do is expensive, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help our work by joining. The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREEas well as access exclusive content available to Times of Israel Community members only.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel

Join our Community Join our Community Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

Leave A Reply