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Malta’s holistic AI strategy

Malta's Holistic AI Strategy - MDIA

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Malta is at the forefront of embracing AI and ensuring its ethical deployment.

As the world gears up to understand and regulate the ever-evolving realm of artificial intelligence (AI), Malta has been at the forefront of embracing this technology and ensuring its ethical deployment.

The recent announcement of the UK’s global AI summit, focusing predominantly on the potential existential threats of AI, has brought a renewed attention to the global discussions surrounding AI governance. While nations like the UK embark on new journeys, Malta’s efforts deserve a spotlight.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s initiative to host a summit concentrating on the “frontier models” of AI and their potential national security implications has ignited debates and garnered global attention.

The UK’s approach, though initially met with scepticism, is now gaining traction.

The idea to understand the larger threats posed by advanced AI, especially in the domains of bioweapon development and cyberattacks, resonates with the global emphasis on AI safety.


AI Threats & AI Safety


However, while the UK’s new initiative is noteworthy, Malta’s continuous dedication to AI, especially through the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA), has been consistent since 2019. As the first entity of its kind in the world, the MDIA has played a pivotal role in the strategic embracing and parametrising of AI in Malta through the setting of standards within a Technology Assurance Sandbox, launched in 2020.

In its forward-thinking approach to the digital age, Malta has actively embraced the integration of AI into its national landscape.


Malta is committed to AI, not as a mere technological tool, but as a transformative force that must be harnessed responsibly.


Recognising the transformative potential of such technologies, the country has rolled out favourable policies for blockchain, establishing itself as a sought-after hub in this rapidly expanding sector.

Delving deeper into AI, Malta has meticulously crafted a holistic AI strategy, aiming to position itself as a formidable player on the global stage.

This strategy with a 2030 vision is built upon three foundational pillars: fostering investment, start-ups, and innovation; promoting AI adoption in the public sector; and facilitating its integration into the private sector.

A standout feature of this strategy is the AI Sandbox program, which ensures that AI systems are developed in line with technology driven control objectives. Drawing inspiration from its achievements in the blockchain domain, the Maltese government aspires to harness AI as a pivotal driver of the nation’s digital innovation and economic progression.


Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning


This aspiration is bolstered by a balanced regulatory framework, tailored to attract a diverse array of innovators, investors, and tech entrepreneurs. Furthermore, Malta’s dedication to education shines through its initiatives like the AI-powered learning and assessment platform in mathematics at the primary level and the introduction of specialised postgraduate AI programs and scholarships.

The government aspires to harness AI as a pivotal driver of the nation’s digital innovation.

– Kenneth Brincat

Collectively, these endeavours highlight Malta’s unwavering commitment to spearheading AI innovations and ensuring its populace is adeptly prepared for the digital future.

Malta recently hosted the EU Med9 meeting, focusing on the transformative potential of AI. This gathering of nine EU Mediterranean countries, under Malta’s guidance, aimed to harness AI’s benefits while addressing its ethical implications. The meeting emphasised collaboration, knowledge exchange, and the development of a robust AI infrastructure.

This meeting was held just a week after the State of the Union speech by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen whereby she highlighted AI’s vast opportunities and associated challenges, calling for a global, responsible approach. On these lines, the Med9 discussions revolved around collaboration among Mediterranean nations, sharing best practices, data sharing and initiating joint AI forum.

Recent initiatives, such as the G7’s Hiroshima AI Process, shed light on the global collaborative efforts required in AI governance.

While some nations focus on specific areas of concern, Malta’s holistic approach serves as a comprehensive model for others to consider. Furthermore, as discussions about the potential threats of AI intensify, nations can look towards Malta’s balanced stance – ensuring innovation while prioritising safety and ethics.

The MDIA’s continued efforts underscore the nation’s commitment to AI, not as a mere technological tool, but as a transformative force that must be harnessed responsibly.

In the rapidly shifting landscape of AI, nations must collaborate and learn from each other’s experiences. As the UK, the US, and other major players strategise their next moves, Malta’s consistent efforts in the AI arena offer valuable insights and a road map for sustainable and ethical AI development.

Malta started the review of the National AI Strategy and the MDIA has invited all stakeholders to submit their views to finally present a realigned Strategy in 2024. The future of AI is global, and Malta’s role in it is undeniably significant.

Kenneth Brincat is CEO of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority.

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