The Malta Independent 19 October 2019, Saturday

Updated: National strategy for AI to be launched in coming days – Silvio Schembri

Jeremy Micallef Monday, 23 September 2019, 11:26 Last update: about 26 days ago

The government will be launching the national strategy for Artificial Intelligence in the coming days, Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation Silvio Schembri announced on Monday.

The parliamentary secretary was speaking at the MITA seminar on the digitization of the Public Service and Artificial Intelligence, accompanied by the Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar.

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The current administration has been pushing for Malta to become a jurisdiction in which local and foreign companies and entrepreneurs can develop, prototype, test and scale AI, and ultimately showcase the value from their innovations.

Tying this into the public service, Schembri explained that AI will be a useful tool to better facilitate a number of challenges that the public service is facing today, and the national strategy on AI will include a long-term plan up until the year 2030 to ensure that Malta becomes a centre for the use of AI.

“Part of our vision is for Malta to be presented as a place from where projects can be built and then scaled up for larger countries,” the Parliamentary Secretary said, noting that Malta has already been a test-bed of sorts when it came to other technologies such as 4.5G+ whereby Malta was also one of the first to have access to the technology.

He maintained that there must be a clear goal in mind as implementing AI should not be done simply to tick a box.

Speaking before the Parliamentary Secretary, Mario Cutajar said that major investment, including in human resources, is pointed towards the direction of innovation in technology.

Basing his speech on the importance of clients and public service, he noted the change of mentality whereby the idea that public service does have clients, and that it cannot work independently from those that need its service.

“We cannot make decisions or release programs that do not take into consideration clients that want that service.”

Cutajar also insisted that it was important to remember that not everyone is tech-savvy and that people should not be left out on that account.

This is why, he explained, that as much as is invested in technology, there will always be those that need help, and that is why regional hubs were thought up.

“Instead of you having to go to the department, the department comes to you.

“Public service must also give the example – like the government must be the model employer, it must also be the model innovator.”

Segwaying into the implementation of AI, Cutajar insisted that Public Service must be the beacon as to how AI must work – whilst focusing on the principles of ethics, transparency, and accountability.

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