Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in development by scientists and mathematicians back in the mid-1900s. Recently, we are seeing this technology becoming part of our daily lives, from a simple internet search to face recognition.
The MDIAs’ regulatory framework is evolving to ensure that Malta continues to be a leader in AI.
The Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) was established in 2018 and a Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence in Malta 2030 was introduced in 2019. The aim of this strategy is to enhance users’ trust in AI while creating the ecosystem for investment, employment, research and development in the area. During the past years, the Authority opened a number of competitive calls which resulted in state-of-the-art research, and projects which create tangible impact on the day-to-day life of people. The MDIA Technology Assurance Sandbox has been revamped and just this month another project on conversational AI was onboarded.
Regulation is a living instrument, and our regulatory framework is evolving to ensure that Malta continues to be a leader in AI. In view of MDIA’s role as the National lead authority for digital innovation, experts from the Authority are actively involved in the development of EU regulations related to AI.
The proposed EU AI Act takes a risk-based approach depending on the purpose of use of the technology. Unacceptable risks will be prohibited and high-risk systems such as those for remote biometric identification systems will require conformity assessment among other regulatory requirements. Transparency obligations will be introduced for specific systems so that users are aware that they are interfacing with an AI solution.
One of the main controversies which raised concerns was the proposed definition of AI as without a clear definition, the proposal would create legal uncertainty. Another area was the exemption of research and Malta was successful in ensuring that research is exempt to ensure that the EU remains at the forefront of innovative technologies.
Malta remains at the forefront of AI uptake, and it placed in second place in the EU for the percentage of enterprises with a minimum of ten employees that makes use of AI.
– Eurostat, 2021
The work of the MDIA is extended as well in the contribution which it gives in international fora. The MDIA participates in the drafting process of the Zero Draft Convention on Artificial intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law which was proposed by the Council of Europe. Locally, the regulatory framework of the MDIA is being updated to continue striking a balance which does not stifle innovation and provides for a technologically neutral framework aiming at withstanding the test of time.
The collective efforts being done can ultimately be seen in the latest results issued by Eurostat. Malta remains at the forefront of AI uptake, and it placed in second place in the EU for the percentage of enterprises with a minimum of ten employees that makes use of AI (Eurostat, 2021). Such positive results continue to encourage MDIA to work harder for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Gavril Flores is Chief Strategy, Policy and Governance, and Dr Annalise Seguna is Senior Officer (Legal & Research) within the Malta Digital Innovation Authority.