Malta's drive for innovation and disruptive technology does not stop with blockchain. It has now also set its eyes to become the first country in the world to regulate services in the sector of artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Speaking at the Blockchain Summit, Digital Economy and Innovation Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri made it clear that the government is exploring Artificial Intelligence as a new economic niche, with the aim of transforming the potential of Artificial Intelligence into a new contributor to Malta's economic growth in digital innovation.
The plan is to develop a national AI strategy, putting Malta amongst the top 10 nations that have taken such an approach. A key advantage of Malta is its size, making it similar to a cosmopolitan city that could allow companies to test their products in a real-life scenario.
The government also aims to understand how AI could be applied to provide better services to citizens, and come up with a policy that supports ethically aligned, transparent and socially responsible AI, identify policy, regulatory and fiscal measures to strengthen Malta's appeal as a hub for foreign investment in this sector, while identifying the underlying skill base and infrastructure needed to support AI.
This follows the EU Commission's commitment to explore and develop artificial intelligence's potential. In April 2018, the EU Commission adopted the Communication on Artificial Intelligence; a 20-page document that lays out the EU's approach to AI.
The Maltese government's first step was to set up a task force on AI composed of entrepreneurs, academics and experts in the field. Its purpose is to formulate a holistic plan of action, involving scholars, specialists, start-ups and companies, to find ways how to create a sustainable local engine for growth, look into the unknown risks of artificial intelligence without hampering economic and innovative development, and create a new sector for investment in Malta.