Malta has joined the global race to become a leader in Artificial Intelligence and is ready to carve out a new economic niche. Buoyed by its success in positioning Malta at the forefront of Blockchain technology, the Government is now taking the next step and transforming the potential of AI into a new contributor to Malta’s economic growth.
While the country has yet to release its AI strategy, the Malta.AI Taskforce has already identified three strategic pillars: Investment; Start-ups and Innovation; and Public Sector Adoption and Private Sector Adoption, as well as three Enablers: Education and Workforce; a Legal and Ethical Framework; and Ecosystem Infrastructure.
The Maltese Government sees a bright future ahead and possibilities for major benefits from the AI technology — both in the public and private sector, and believes it can position the country as a hub for AI application as well as research and development, while transforming current job roles and creating new ones, attracting overseas players and encouraging startups.
According to Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri, “The aim is always the same – to bring about benefits to the end-consumer, and strengthening quality of life in Malta. Our vision is to position Malta as a test-bed for AI related projects, possibly in specific sectors where Malta is best placed to apply AI-powered solutions.”
From left to right: Wayne Grixti, Chairman of Malta.AI, Silvio Schembri, Sophia the robot, Ben Goertzel, Hanson Robotics Chief Scientist
MaltaProfile rounded up the key initiatives highlighted in a recently launched Public Consultation Document on Malta’s AI Strategy:
1.The Government will become the main adopter of AI in public services, including healthcare, education, traffic management, citizen services, tourism, and elderly care, amongst others, which will greatly improve the economic wellbeing of Malta and comprehensively enhance the people’s quality of life.
2. The Government will develop a series of initiatives to engage the private sector, including actions to make AI easily accessible and affordable. Awareness campaigns will be developed to make AI easily understood and applied across sectors and businesses of various sizes.
3. The plan includes measures to encourage leading global technology companies to make AI related investments into Malta, and attract AI companies of all shapes and sizes — from start-ups to scale-ups to established global tech leaders — to set up operation on the islands.
4. The Government is geared towards enhancing Malta’s international profile as a technological hub in the field of AI. An industry body will be set up and funded by the Government in order to promote the Maltese AI sector internationally through a presence at key global AI events.
5. Promoting technology entrepreneurship as an alternative career path amongst the local population will be an important part of the strategy.
6. The Government aims to provide strong support to AI-related start-ups to help excel Malta as a hub for global AI startup activity. Malta will roll out a series of measures start-ups will be able to benefit from. Among them are facilities, tools, infrastructure, funding and advisory services.
7. There are plans to develop a cutting-edge Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence for AI, Big Data and Robotics in Malta to enhance the innovation agenda. With its small population, Malta can also function as an ideal test bed for AI companies to future-proof their products in a real life scenario.
8. The Government is committed to increasing the number of AI specialists on the labour market. This will include fostering and embracing the adoption of Artificial Intelligence in education, positioning 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 and educational/research institutes on AI related initiatives, and encouraging and enabling the workforce to prepare for the AI revolution.
9. The Government is committed to creating a National Ethics Framework to support the responsible, transparent and unbiased use of AI.
10. Finally, the Government will invest in an efficient technology roadmap and data infrastructure to adapt to the development of AI and allow it to flourish.
Photo Credits: Malta Chamber of Commerce