Advancing Artificial Intelligence: Iran’s Drive for Innovation

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held a meeting on March 17 focusing on “big steps” in artificial intelligence, Iran’s pro-government Tasnim News said. This is important because Iran has already invested in cyber capabilities, and the use of AI is one of the technologies many countries are now investing in.

The meeting generally provided an overview of issues such as the “digital economy” and Iran’s steps in AI. The Iranian regime leader held a discussion “with a group of virtual business activists in a meeting on Saturday afternoon,” the report said. He heard from 15 different business owners and discussed the current ecosystem for technology and innovation in Iran.

Iran is seeking to invest in training young people in these fields and to work in AI. This could have security and defense implications for the region. For now, Raisi is talking about economic growth and job creation. Iran is “increasing financial and legal support as well as providing a suitable environment for the presence and participation of the private sector in this field,” the report said.

The Iranian leader also discussed the need for regulation in this field. “Creating a healthy, competitive, and calm environment with easy access to domestic markets and Foreigners is one of the essentials for the prosperity of the digital economy for the activists of this sector,” the Iranian president said. This would all seem normal if one were discussing a Western democracy.

AI generated computer (credit: PIXABAY)

However, in Iran, these types of economic investments also have implications for the country’s security. This can include ties between companies and the regime and also ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to Iran’s Minister of the Economy, the country wants to train 100,000 people in the digital economy sector.

“Smartening all government services, strengthening data protection measures, developing necessary programs to benefit from new technologies, including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, and trying to improve productivity with the help of experts and activists in the digital field, were among the other programs of the government that the Minister of Communications and Information Technology pointed to.”

According to the report, several business leaders participated in the meeting. Most of the executives do not have much of an online presence. Tasnim News named most of them, including two women executives that the Iranian leader met with.

Some of the meeting attendees

Those attending included Kazem Kayal, CEO of Yes Application, Mohammad Baqer Tabrizi, CEO of Quera Company, Mostafa Raipour, CEO of Digiton Company, Abbas Asgari Sari, CEO of Mohiman Company, Mohammad Sadoughi, CEO of Trabrand Company, Majid Hosseininejad, the founder of Alibaba Holding, Ali Hakim Javadi, who was recently elected chairman of the board of directors of Tehran’s Nasr Organization, Mohammad Mahdi Shariatmadar, CEO of JBit Company which apparently is involved in advertising and other businesses, as well as Mustafa Amiri, the CEO of Zarin Pal, who was elected recently in elections of the Computer Trade Union Organization of Tehran province.

Two attendees stand out. One of them was Alireza Abedinejad, the CEO of Doran Software Technologies, which was sanctioned in December 2023 as “a leading company in Iran assisting the government in censorship and filtering of the Internet.”

In addition, the report said that Masoud Tabatabai attended the meeting. Tabatabai was reportedly detained in February for having an offensive coffee mug. Tabatabai is the head of Iran’s largest online retailer, Digikala Group. According to Iran Wire, it is seen as Iran’s version of Amazon. Apparently, his legal issues had been resolved before the meeting with the president.

The report about Iran’s president meeting with businesses shows Iran is taking this initiative seriously. Many countries are increasing their investment in artificial intelligence (AI). AI has many uses, but it is not always well understood. At its base, it should involve machine learning and an interface between the user and the AI to improve decisions or processes.

In many cases, it is used as a catchword for systems that don’t use AI but rather use various algorithms that don’t actually learn over time. Nevertheless, Iran’s decision to invest more focus in these technologies matters. AI is increasingly used in defense industries.

It can be used to improve targeting and also be used to work with electro-optics and other features that are increasingly employed to deal with the numerous sensors that are now on military platforms, such as drones and missiles.