I posted several thoughts about the Arab world and tech on LinkedIN about arab-related throughout 2023. The main ones are shown below.
2023-05-25 Arabic Fediverse
I have collaborated with international developers to publicize the #fediverse, what it is, and how to use it in multiple languages, including Slovak, Russian, French, and Arabic. The work alone was not complicated, but what is important is the feeling of sharing and collaborating with colleagues of different cultures and languages. Stefan Bohacek, someone that I had never met before, posted a message yesterday asking if anyone could help translate jointhefediverse.net into other languages. I knew that I should help support the #arabic language. After only few hours of volunteering with the content and code enhancements, I gained a new friend with a similar spirit of sharing information in multiple languages. More importantly, I felt that I contributed some work, not much but more to come, to my native #arabworld.
2023-06-11 Arabs in AI
Contrary to what many believe that #ai technology is relatively recent in the #Arab world, I found a book during my last trip to Lebanon that reveals how research around #ai and #nlp for the Arabic language started as early as 1985. The book “Selected Proceedings of the Workshop on Computer Processing of the Arabic Language” was published in 1989, and it includes material and papers from a workshop held in Kuwait in April 1985. I scanned the first few pages and attached them to the post. If anyone is interested in specific chapters, reply to my LinkedIn post or message me, and I will scan and send them. I don’t think anyone will chase me on copyright protection. I am glad that I found what I believe is the oldest book around #arabic #ai. I am happy to share, and if you have historical material around #arabic #ai please do share.
Juggling between running a startup in an economically devastating country Lebanon, regularly engaging with many AI enthusiasts around the world, presenting at numerous media events, and, at the same time, ensuring that he devotes time to his family, Christophe Zoghbi is still not satisfied. He and the Zaka AI TEAM want everyone, young and old, to benefit from the advancements in AI through learning and development. Even though I am not living in #lebanon, I have kept myself up to speed with the local technology industry and the community. What started as Beirut.AI meetups and more than quadrupled into a whole learning establishment with Zaka.AI (zaka means “intelligence” in Arabic); we owe it to Chris and the staff of Zaka AI to have taught hundreds of Lebanese and Arab youths in AI in affordable ways that would have been unattainable with the traditional educational institutions. Thank you, Chris, and the Zaka | زكا team for everything that you are doing for the #mena region in #ai.
Suppose there is one talk that summarizes the history and challenges of the Arabic language in the technology world. In that case, it should be the one by Kuwaiti inventor and founder of Sakhr, Mohammed AlSharekh. Mr. AlSharekh brought the Arabic language to computers and the Sakhr BASIC programming language in Arabic in 1982. He and his team at Sakhr Software in Kuwait and Cairo spearheaded the first Arabic NLP algorithms, machine language, and voice recognition solutions for the Arab world in the 80s and the 90s. Nearly all the Arabic-related AI solutions are grounded by the work of Mr. AlSharekh and his team at Sakhr. Mr. AlSharekh was highly vocal about modernizing the Arabic dictionary to meet the 21st century, so his team built a modern Arab digital dictionary ( https://lnkd.in/ghwsa4Sv) in 2019. Though the research in Arabic NLP continues to be active in academia, the challenges of the Arabic language in the digital world that Mr. AlSharekh shares in his 5-year-old video remain highly relevant. One message he makes clear during the talk and speaks volumes is that only Arabs and Arabs alone can solve the challenges of the Arabic language in society.
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