Artificial Intelligence might need to be regulated in the future, Prime Minister says

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat underscores Malta’s drive to enter the artificial intelligence sector, as it seeks to be at the forefront of regulating for innovation.

In the future, the rights of robots might become a very topical issue, and legislators will have to act to regulate this, the Prime Minister said.

Joseph Muscat was speaking at the Malta Innovation Summit, where he underlined the importance Malta continuing to be innovative.

Muscat said that after the country had started implementing its vision of becoming a blockchain hub – it is one of the world’s first jurisdictions with a legislative framework in the sector – it was now time to move towards the area of artificial intelligence (AI).

“Once we’ve achieved our blockchain goal, we’re now directing our aim towards AI. We’re getting into the discussion about the future of work – meaning what type of productivity will the world be engaged in over the next few decades,” he said.

“In the future, machines might not only be able to learn but also to define themselves. We could be discussing the rights of robots – a discussion which has started in the United States," Muscat said.

Elaborating, he said legislators could be innovative in this field. "I think this subject will hit the headlines in the coming years. I believe legislators might have to regulate the kind of work which is given to machines."

Muscat said Malta had employed innovation “since time immemorial”, and had transformed itself from a fortress economy, to one based on tourism and manufacturing, and now to an economy of financial services, iGaming, blockchain, and moving towards other areas of technology.

“The way we reinvent ourselves every now and then is based on our innovative instinct. We should push one another to be more innovative in the way we think and act, and this comes about with education," he insisted.

From AI to space mining

Digital Economy Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri said that Malta’s blockchain vision was materialising, and the country would now be looking at other sectors.

“The next priority is AI, quantum technology, space mining, big data and the internet of things,” Schembri said.

He added that if Malta acted fast, it could become the first country where quantum communication technology is implemented on a commercial basis.


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