Technology should be embraced not feared, Maltese PM says

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat opens the spring edition of Malta AI & Blockchain Summit in the Hilton in St Julian’s today. (source: BM/Manfredi Bertelli)

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Emerging technologies should not be feared but rather embraced and utilised for offering a better life, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning during his opening speech for the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit in the Hilton in St Julian’s.

The prime minister said that Malta is investigating ways to provide assurances through blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) not only for the island nation but also for Europe.

He said that moving beyond the initial “buzz”, Malta indeed is becoming the “blockchain island”. Tagging Malta as the first country that provides certainty and assurances in the sector, the PM mentioned that since the three landmark bills were passed last year the blockchain space has gone through rapid development.

Mr Muscat said that unfortunately automation is often received with scepticism, however artificial intelligence-based solutions enable services to operate more efficiently and accurately. Emphasising the importance of technology, the prime minister said that within the next five years, there will be more than five billion internet of things devices.

‘High-flying’ sector

Taking the floor after the prime minister, Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri started by tagging the blockchain sector as a “high-flying” one, confirming that Malta has changed since the first blockchain summit was held in November 2018.

The junior minister emphasised that both the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the Malta Digital Innovations Authority (MDIA) have rolled up their sleeves to work on helping businesses and startups enter and navigate in the sector.

In order to make sure that businesses looking for investors are safe, virtual financial asset (VFA) agents and auditors are being appointed by the related authorities, who will serve as gatekeepers in the space.

Mr Schembri praised the “diverse pool of talent” Malta has, expressing his high-hopes that these players will help boost Malta’s economy. He said the government is committed to upskilling talent, and mentioned the recent launch of the first DLT Masters course at the University of Malta.

Times today experience a fast digital revolution happening, which will not stop at blockchain, according to the junior minister, therefore Malta is committed to exploring further emerging technologies.

Mr Schembri once again stressed their work for turning Malta into an AI launchpad where businesses can prototype their products before springboarding them to the world. He also mentioned the commercial potential related to space, hence the set up of Malta’s Space Task Force.

He further elaborated on the emerging importance of eSports, ensuring that Malta is already investigating the sector’s potential and is ready to make related steps.