Malta first country in the world to launch AI certification programme

Helena Grech - 3rd October 2019

Government commits to launching 6 AI public sector pilot projects in traffic management, education, tourism, healthcare, customer service and energy and water over the next three years.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat expressed his wish to see Malta exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a manner “that improves our way of life,” made possible through the “unique challenge of [Malta’s] thriving economy”. Parliamentary Secretary for financial services, the digital economy and innovation Silvio Schembri spoke of plans for Malta to be the first country in the world to launch an AI certification programme based on Malta’s AI ethical framework.

Dr Muscat and Mr Schembri were speaking at the first full day of the DELTA Summit, which showcases innovative technologies such as cryptocurrency, blockchain, the Internet of Things, cognitive computing and more.

Dr Muscat described AI as an “important technology”. “We want to be the first Government in the world that is powered by AI technology,” he told the packed audience.

Mr Schembri laid out the Government’s strategy for transforming Malta into the “ultimate AI launchpad”. He described this as transforming Malta into a place in which local and foreign companies and entrepreneurs can develop, prototype, test and scale AI.

He added that this will serve to “showcase the value of their innovations across an entire nation primed for adoption. The ambition is to crease conditions for AI to springboard from Malta to the world”.

Mr Schembri spoke of Malta’s AI vision, which contains over 70 actions envisioned to take place between 2019 and 2022.

Turning to the AI certification programme, he explained that this would be voluntary and aims to provide applicants recognition that their AI system has been developed in an ethically aligned and transparent manner.

“A thorough audit will be undertaken by an expert within the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. Following this launch, we expect other countries to follow suit”.

From a high-level, top-down approach, Mr Schembri explained that Malta’s AI strategy is based on specific strategic pillars: Investment, start-ups and innovation; public sector adoption; and private sector adoption.

Underpinning the above strategic pillars will be a drive towards education and the workforce, developing a legal and ethical framework as well as an ‘ecosystem infrastructure’.

Mr Schembri further explained that the Government is seeking to drive local and foreign investment, incubate a vibrant AI start-up community and stimulate nice research and development and innovation.

“We are open for business, determined to become the jurisdiction of choice…we are Malta the powerhouse of economic innovation,” Mr Schembri said in his concluding remarks.

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Malta first country in the world to launch AI certification programme