Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February, 2023 at 3:07 pm by Andre Camilleri
The potential impact of the “coming wave” of Artificial Intelligence on employers and employees in Malta was discussed in a conference on Wednesday.
Entitled “The Ripple Effect of AI” and forming part of the TransformWork Project, the conference sought to promote a discussion on different aspects of digitization in the workplace.
Professor Joshua Ellul, professor within the faculty of ICT at the University of Malta, said that while AI won’t take our jobs, at least for the foreseeable future, it will certainly “enhance and change them.”
The impact of these emerging technologies is too complex to be able to predict and, from a business perspective, this may be an issue as investors would prefer certainty wherever possible.
Ellul spoke about the technology assurance sandbox, a controlled and safe environment within which to test newly emerging technologies, enabling authorities the ability to regulate them before they’re unleashed on the world.
The Minister for Active Ageing and consultant of surgery Jo Etienne Abela, through a recorded message, spoke about the impact that AI was having within the surgical field.
James Scicluna, one of the co-founders of W.H Partners, spoke about recent EU legislative initiatives that aim to contain the risks present within AI.
Scicluna stated that legislators are using a catch-all approach to regulation because they don’t want technological advancements to outrun legislation, rendering it obsolete. The laws being developed are thus wide in scope because “very rapid change will be upon us in the next few years.”
A panel discussion was then held, moderated by the CEO of the Malta Business Bureau Joe Tanti, featuring many speakers including: Dr Daniela Grech, head of Projects and EU Funds at the Malta Chamber; Josef Bugeja, secretary general of the General Workers Union; Stefan Farrugia, CEO of Eunoia; Dr Angelo Dalli, entrepreneur, investor and AI expert; and Brigitte Tanti, Enterprise Europe Network coordinator.
One of the main points that seemed to emerge from this discussion is the need to for businesses in Malta to embrace digitisation and automation in order to improve services and remain competitive in the market.
There is a risk that this wave perpetuates and even enhances any gaps that may exist between those best equipped to take advantage of this wave and those who cannot adapt.
A short-term solution to the current mismatch between the skills currently found in the labour workforce and the market could be solved by upskilling and reskilling programs, said Bugeja. But this was merely temporary; there is a need to think about the long-term too.
Grech proposed emphasizing more “critical thinking, ICT, problem-solving numeracy,” noting that “ultimately school pupils need to contribute to the workforce,” in response to what the educational sector, which provides the raw materials for the workforce, can do.
The conference, organised by the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, together with the Malta Business Bureau and the General Workers’ Union, organised a conference on Wednesday discussing ended on a positive note. People can now sign up to a free, three-month course that explains the basics of AI and its potential impact on society.
Those interested can follow this link to learn more: Digitalskills.ai