Malta launches National AI Strategy public consultation

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri unveiled the first details of Malta’s Artificial Intelligence Policy. During a one-day workshop organized by the MALTA.ai Taskforce, which was established to devise Malta’s National AI Strategy.

‘Malta aspires to become a place in which local and foreign companies, and entrepreneurs, can develop, prototype, test and scale AI, and ultimately to showcase the value from their innovations across an entire nation primed for adoption. Our ambition is to create the conditions for AI to a springboard from Malta to the world’

Schembri explained that the Malta.AI Taskforce identified 3 Strategic Pillars; Investment, Start-ups and Innovation, Public Sector Adoption and Private Adoption and 3 Enablers; Education and Workforce, A Legal and Ethical Framework and Ecosystem Infrastructure. ‘These will serve as the building blocks of Malta’s National AI Strategy with an explicit aim to put Malta amongst the top 10 nations with the highest impact national AI programme.

Schembri explained the main goals established for each pillar. The main objectives of the Investment, Start-ups and Innovation are to put Malta as a centre of excellence and technological hub in the field of AI by attracting leading AI companies to set-up operation in Malta, stimulate local start-up activity and raise awareness and visibility of the Malta AI sector.

The main goal for Public Sector Adoption is for Government to take a lead in showcasing the benefits that can be brought about by AI by using the technology to provide better services to citizen/ businesses, improving the economic and social wellbeing of Malta’s and enhancing the internal operations of the Public Service Sector. “Our aim is to create and AI Powered Government and to do so will assess a number of use cases for public sector applications. These AI use cases will be clearly defined and then assessed against criteria that will consider operational, economic, financial, legal and regulatory aspects, with a view to identifying the projects that can generate the biggest local impact. These projects will be gradually implemented as pilot projects with a view to later rolling them out across the nation” explained Schembri. He added that this pillar will ensure capacity and capability building and knowledge transfer within the public sector, address training needs and help drive a cultural shift and change management and also will seek to encourage procurement of smart technology based solution with the Public Service.

Private Sector Adoption is the third pillar. It aims to encourage SME’s to embrace and adopt AI, help local businesses to use AI and build trust in how AI works in terms of transparency and accountability.

Underpinning these pillars are three enablers that cut-across all aspects of the National AI Strategy. The Education and Workforce Enabler will look at policy measured designed to equip, reskill and upskill workers in every sector of society and lay the foundations for Malta’s education system to evolve and adapt to the requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will include fostering and embracing the adoption of Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIEd); Position Malta as a home for AI researches and graduates; addressing the societal aspects to promote AI as an enabler rather than something to fear; facilitating collaboration between Industry & Educational/Research institutes on AI related initiatives; and encouraging and enabling the workforce to prepare for the AI revolution.

The second enabler is a Legal and Ethical Framework, focused on the development of a National Ethics Framework that will mandate trusted, ethical, transparent and unbiased use of AI and the adaptation of existing legislation to embrace AI applications amongst others.

The third enabler, Ecosystem Infrastructure, is aimed at designing a future-proofed technology roadmap and data infrastructure that will allow AI to flourish.

This will be done through the enabiling platforms, technology and resources available and accessible. Given that the new digital and data-driven world permeates all areas of the economy, the investments the country will make are expected to provide cross-sectoral benefits across many domains.

Schembri explained that the document will be open for public consultation until the 22nd of April. ‘This document sets out the vision and the guiding areas which the Malta AI Task Force believes will shape the Strategy. Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback over the next month on the document.. In addition to this, the Task Force together with the working groups will continue to meet key stakeholders to get their insights as the Strategy is built out’ said Schembri.

The Malta.AI workshop was attended and addressed by Irina Orssich, author of Coordination plan on Artificial Intelligence  within the EU Commission praised Malta’s proactive stance in Artificial Intelligence. ‘It is a document which is brought down to Malta’s reality. The way Malta was looking at its strength and trying to build from there and see all the elements that is very interesting and it is complimenting to what the EU is looking for’ said Orssich

During the Malta.AI Workshop, Schembri launched the 2nd edition of DELTA Summit which is going to be held between the 2nd-4th October. ‘After last year’s success, DELTA Summit is becoming a much anticipated event in the tech world and yet again, DELTA Summit will showcase how far Malta has gone in its lead within the technological spectrum’ said Schembri.

Source malta.ai

Link to Public consultation document Malta- Towards an AI Strategy