The Cliffs of Cinque Terre, Manarola, Italy — photo by @jackward

A Sustainable Long-Term Italian AI Strategy

Reading and Summarising the Draft of the Italian AI Strategy

This article is a summary of the progress within the Italian AI strategy so far.

The current progress of the AI strategy in Italy is as follows.

  1. In September 2017 the Italian AI Task Force launched the Agency for Digital Italy (AGID). The task force includes 30 direct members and around 450 community members from many sectors. One initiative was Observatory on Artificial Intelligence, which aims to analyse AI-related public conversations on social networks through technology.
  2. In March 2018, the agency released a White Paper called “AI at the service of citizens,” edited by the AI Task Force. This came to life after a consultation with hundred public and private subjects
  3. In July 2019 a draft of the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence was released. The Italian Ministry of the Economic Development issued the national strategy.

The focus of this article will be on the last point, however it may be advantageous to check out the other documents if you want to do a deeper dive into the Italian strategy.

The strategy has nine goals [bold added]:

  1. Increasing public and private investments in AI and related technologies;
  2. Strengthening the ecosystem of research and innovation in the field of AI;
  3. Supporting the usage of digital technologies based on AI;
  4. Strengthening the educational offering at every level, to bring AI to the service of workers;
  5. Exploiting the potentials of the data economy;
  6. Consolidating the legal and ethical framework that regulates the development of the AI;
  7. Promoting awareness and trust in AI systems among citizens;
  8. Boosting the public sector and make public policies more efficient; and
  9. Fostering the European and international cooperation for responsible and inclusive AI.

As is the case with most of the strategies, a report by a consulting company is mention in the beginning (this time Accenture) foreshadowing the incredible growth that will be occurring in the field of AI. This one to double the annual rate of economic growth and increase labour productivity by up to 40% by 2035.

The report proposes an industrial policy approach based on the strengths of the production structure. Thus the Italian, the Government has identified seven key sectors, which will be given top priority in the choices to allocate funding:

  1. Industry and manufacturing
  2. Agri-food
  3. Tourism and culture
  4. Energy infrastructures and networks
  5. Health and social security
  6. Smart cities and mobility
  7. Public administration

Within these there are four guiding principles. The public-private partnership (PPP); the intra- and inter-institutional collaboration; the synergy with European action; and monitoring and evaluation of the evidence generated will be the four points.

It argues that the interdisciplinary nature of AI will require an important coordination between institutions, ministries, public agencies, financial bodies and large investors.

To aid in this the AI Policy Observatory was set up:

It is an inter-ministerial and multi-stakeholder control booth in order to ensure:

  1. A harmonious, effective and evolutionary implementation of the national AI strategy;
  2. Monitoring and evaluation of its economic and social impact;
  3. Constant discussion on the subject with the scientific and business community.
Screenshot retrieved 11th of January 2019

Who talks about artificial intelligence in Italy? How and how often does it happen? How do they feel about it? Collected data are made available as an open data set to citizens, businesses, researchers, students, schools and associations.

Considering the different forms of intervention that the Government will implement, public investment overall by the year 2025 it will amount to approximately 1 billion euro. This appropriation should exercise a leverage effect of equal order on private investments, such as to reach a volume total of at least 2 billion euros.

The Italian ecosystem of AI research has already taken important steps in the direction of one

greater membership integration and membership of European networks. For example nationally it is the Consortium’s Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems (AIIS) laboratory was established National Interuniversity for Information Technology (CINI). Many universities and Italian research institutes are members of the Confederation of Laboratories research network for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe (CLAIRE).

Other important national centers of excellence conducting AI research are the Institute Italian of Technology (IIT) and the Council’s Institute for Computing and High Performance Networks (ICAR) National Research (CNR).

The Government believes that support for SMEs’ open innovation will foster the digital transition of the Italian production fabric, stimulating the demand and hiring of qualified personnel and experts in AI. At the same time, the growing demand for AI solutions from businesses will favour birth of new startups and innovative SMEs and a greater diffusion of AI throughout the territory national.

In addition to promoting the establishment of centres of excellence in the field of AI, the Italian government aims to create a national network for the development and diffusion of AI, more generally of technologies digital, so as to put the various centres in a system.

They suggest educational initiatives at all levels:

At primary and secondary education level, the Government intends to relaunch consultation with the social partners of the National Plan for the Digital School, to reach in a shared way a an investment strategy aimed at updating the teaching and skills of the body digital teacher;

At tertiary education level, the Government undertakes to redesign the degree courses nationals that provides for the insertion of an adequate number of training credits attributable to AI themes, to invest in artificial intelligence courses applied in Technical Institutes Higher and to finance doctorate scholarships more conspicuously, reversing the trend registered with the previous management.

In general, concrete financial and infrastructural support for the development of online courses popularizing and professionalizing about AI.

The government will also promote data sharing agreements.

The government is interested in experimenting with forms of flexible regulation and is evaluating the possibility of implement forms of co-regulation, such as regulatory sandboxes , for experimentation in the autonomous driving sector.

The government believes that the issues of cyber security and so-called deepfakes should be treated with particular attention to better protect citizens, and intends to promote it development and use of e-learning platforms with dedicated courses. The government also undertakes to support international initiatives aimed at combating distortions information caused by AI and online disinformation campaigns.

AI will be a useful tool to achieve the main objectives that the Government sets itself on legality, such as the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance, the fight against web crimes, the fight against cyberattacks generated by AI, the theft of personal information and sensitive data, and the fight against mafias and terrorism.

This strategic plan represents a contribution to the European Coordinated Plan for Intelligence Artificial. The Italian government is determined to encourage synergistic action by the countries of the Union European so that the EU can face and overcome competition from the United States and China.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 220. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. My current focus for 100 days 200–300 is national and international strategies for artificial intelligence.

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau