Valletta, Malta — The city of Valletta at sunset, photo by — @mparente

Malta’s AI Strategy

The strategy for Malta is named A Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence in Malta 2030. The goal is to make Malta the ultimate AI launchpad and was launched October 2019. I will try to map some of the main points of the strategy.

As most strategies the Malta AI strategy starts by explaining what artificial intelligence is. Then it tells of visions and goals, followed by a focus on investments, start-ups and innovation. After this there is a focus on public sector and how artificial intelligence can be implemented within different areas that may benefit the public. This is followed by private sector adoption; education and workforce; the legal and ethical; as well as ecosystem infrastructure.

To do this Malta sets out goals for 2022 and towards 2030.

Within 2022 they want that:

  • Every Maltese citizen will know what AI is.
  • AI-related activities will generate investment.
  • Companies and government will have started to scale AI solutions.
  • Pilots showcase the benefits that can be delivered.
  • The business community will have developed foundational knowledge.
  • Malta’s workforce will be better prepared for work in an AI-driven world.
  • Laws and regulations will be up to date.
  • Malta will be a model nation that other look up to.
  • Computers will be able to process and understand Maltese text and speech.
  • Policy on high-compute performance access and cybersecurity will have been developed.

Within 2030 they aim to have:

  • Trusted AI solutions part of everyday life across all generations.
  • AI will be a driver that propels R&D activities.
  • Malta wants to be amongst the top 10 nations.
  • AI solutions will help augment public services.
  • Companies of all sizes and sectors will deploy AI solutions.
  • Maltese workers will have the skillset to thrive in an AI world.
  • Robust governance and social protection mechanisms will be in place.
  • Malta is compliant with international regulations.
  • People have better control of their personal data and able to commoditise it for their own need.

Malta’s Pathway Towards an AI Strategy

  1. In November 2018, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation appointed the Malta. AI Taskforce with the remit of advising the Government and developing a national strategy on AI. Working groups were also formed at the time.
  2. In March 2019, Malta.AI Taskforce published a high level policy document, Malta — Towards an AI Strategy. Laying out key areas of focus for the National AI Strategy.
  3. The national strategy has built on these areas to set out a number of actions that will be achieved by 2022, together with actions to support a longer-term vision of where the country would like to be in 2030.

The Main Outline

The Strategy is looking at the impact commercially and socially, areas of economic opportunity and the need for special consideration, if not regulation, where AI use cases potentially intersect with national priorities, values and citizen’s rights.

They outline three strategic pillars:

  • Investment, start-ups and innovation: sets out initiatives to generate investment and position the country as a hub for AI application.
  • Public sector adoption: explores how AI can be deployed widely across the public administration to improve citizens’ experiences, expand access to public services, and directly improve well-being. s.
  • Private sector adoption: details initiatives to drive awareness and enable companies of all sizes to use, develop and integrate AI applications across their organisations.

With three outlined strategic enablers:

  • Education and workforce: plans for the impact of technology and automation on the Maltese labour market and proposes measures to:
    -Assist workers to develop new digital skills
    -Increase the number of AI specialists
    -Equip all students on higher education programmes in Malta with AI knowledge
  • Ethical and legal: establishes the world’s first to provide a platform to practitioners and companies that wish to showcase ethically aligned, transparent and socially responsible AI solutions, building on Malta’s Ethical AI Framework Towards Trustworthy AI. It makes provision for the formation of a to advise on laws and regulation in respect to AI matters and the creation of regulatory and data sandboxes.
  • Ecosystem infrastructure: lays out investments in tools to enable Maltese Language AI solutions, initiatives to support data availability and actions to mitigate cybersecurity risks and facilitate cost-effective access to high-performance compute capability among other measures designed to create the underlying infrastructure to support a thriving AI ecosystem.

They start by raising both opportunities and concerns. Stating both labour concerns and upwards economic benefits (as is usual in these strategies). Then it follows to described the different AI directives as well as the investment outlined by the EU.

What Opportunities Are Outlined in the Strategy for Malta?

There is a section in the document that I found interesting.

Investments in Malta

Malta’s size makes it a viable test bed for pilot projects which can be run across an entire country. In the strategy they claim that Malta can:

Malta has taken a global lead by developing the world’s first national AI certification programme.

Sectors Important to Malta

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.