After Becoming The Blockchain Island, Malta Announces It's Formulating National AI Strategy

Four months ago, the Maltese Parliament passed three laws establishing the regulatory framework for blockchain, cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology (DLT). Since then, Malta has become known as the “World’s Blockchain Island,” quickly attracting interest from thousands in the crypto community to set up shop on the tiny island that is part of the European Union (EU).

November 1st 2018 marks another historical day for Malta. Today, the three DLT laws officially go into effect, providing a holistic regulatory framework within the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. What this means is that the newly established Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) and the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) can now start receiving applications for licensing from those interested in operating in Malta.

On November 1, MDIA will start accepting the first applications for a Systems Auditor and that of a Technical Administrator. Systems Auditors will be responsible for analyzing the blockchain platforms, serving as a bridge between companies interested in establishing themselves in Malta. In this regard, we suggest that those interested in applying to carefully follow the guidelines issued by MDIA, as published through the MDIA website, where one can also find the relevant application forms, Stephen McCArthy, MDIA’s CEO, told me."

Malta: From Blockchain Island To AI Nation

In addition to the first blockchain applications being reviewed by the Maltese Government, Malta’s Junior Minister, Silvio Schembri, is now being tasked with the ambitious role of positioning Malta at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Today, Schembri announced that Malta is looking to tap into Artificial Intelligence, a sector that is expected to underpin $15.7 trillion of global economic growth by 2030. The announcement was made during a private event in Malta, held in the presence of Hanson Robotics’ humanoid robot, Sophia, which uses multiple AI modules to see, hear and respond empathetically.

We are extremely excited to be a part of the government of Malta’s creation of an AI-focused task force and the world first citizenship test for robots. The creation of the task force itself shows the government’s recognition of AI’s tremendous potential—and the reality that it must be balanced with risk, policy and ethical considerations. The task force’s creation is just the very beginning, too. I’m confident the impressive mix of academics, entrepreneurs and experts being pulled together for the task force will put Malta in a leading position, creating an industry and applications better than many of us can imagine. The bottom line is, if we want the amazing advances in AI that are going to happen in the next couple decades to benefit all of humanity, then we need a wide swath of humanity to participate in creating the next generation of AI, and infusing it with their values and intuitions. It is very important to work together to create a rational basis for AI and robots to be considered citizens of a democracy, with all the rights and responsibilities that come along with it, Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO at SingularityNET, told me."

The Maltese Government intends to follow the same steps it did when passing the DLT laws, which has allowed Malta to lead the blockchain revolution. Establishing a regulatory framework for AI is expected to impact every economic sector in Malta, transforming current job roles, as well as creating many news ones.

Now that the Blockchain related laws are in effect, and our vision in making Malta The Blockchain Island is materializing, we can start looking at new economic niches, finding ways to incorporate them in our ecosystem. We want Malta to become a powerhouse of economic innovation. In the case of Artificial Intelligence, we believe that this holds a lot of opportunities that will benefit the entire country, Schembri said."

Under Schembri’s wing, the Maltese Government will look into:

  •         Defining Artificial Intelligence
  •         Spearheading a dialogue with stakeholders to build awareness around the key topics and issues that will inform a holistic national AI Framework
  •         Analyzing the impact in boosting the digital economy
  •         Building a policy that considers for ethically aligned, transparent and socially responsible AI
  •         Identifying opportunities and ways to incorporate AI in Malta’s ecosystem
  •         Identifying policy, regulatory and fiscal measures to strengthen Malta’s appeal as a hub for foreign investment in this sector
  •         Identifying the underlying skill base and infrastructure needed to support AI
  •         Boosting knowledge, talent and expertise
  •         Ultimately formulate Malta’s National AI Strategy

The digital aspect is like a chain, you cannot explore one aspect while leaving behind others. Technological advancements in various aspects take place at the same pace, one influencing the other. Malta is anticipating all these changes and development in order to become future proof and the home for businesses and investors in this sector. I want Malta at the epicenter of technological innovation, hence Artificial Intelligence is up next for us to explore, Schembri said."

Apart from using Blockchain technology in the public sector, the Maltese Government is looking into applying Artificial Intelligence in the public sector as well. According to Schembri, Malta has already identified several sectors where AI can assist, such as in Health, Education, Transport and logistics.

"The flourishing of AI in all its aspects in Malta, which we are seeing now with this Task Force, has potential to play a major role in making sure the coming AI Singularity is a positive one for everyone,” echoed Goertzel.

I am an entrepreneur and writer based in San Francisco, California. I cover financial topics related to cryptocurrency, blockchain technology and women disrupting the world of crypto.

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