Following a recent business seminar entitled The Ripple Effect of AI, Malta Business Bureau (MBB) CEO Joe Tanti underscored the importance for businesses to remain competitive through innovative practices, such as employing AI in their operations, but also smart in how to implement and utilise such technology.

He moderated a panel discussion at the seminar titled EU Initiatives and the use of AI at the Workplace.

The seminar was held on 15th February, and was organised by The Malta Chamber and The MBB, in collaboration with the General Workers Union (GWU). The event was organised as part of the EU TransFormWork Project, which is being funded by the EU Social Dialogue Programme. The TransFormWork Project aims to bring together social partners for the digital transformation of the world of work.

Mr Tanti’s panel discussion was composed of representatives from the social partners and experts, including Daniela Grech, Head of Projects and EU Funds at the Malta Chamber, Josef Bugeja, Secretary General of the GWU; Stefan Farrugia, CEO at Eunioa; and Angelo Dalli, AI & Technology Expert.

Together with the panellists, Mr. Tanti discussed the way that digitalisation has been shaping businesses at the workplace, the advantages such technology can bring about, the risks it poses, how we can overcome these risks and the resources available for businesses to embrace this technology.

He concluded the panel by stating that ‘’our businesses need to remain competitive in seeking to innovate through AI but smart in utilising this technology by keeping the human in control principle in mind.’’

During the panel, Brigitte Tanti from Malta Enterprise spoke about a new opportunity for businesses with the launch of the ADMA TranS4MErs, an EU-funded project that has addressing mainly manufacturing SMEs. This project makes available funding to guide companies as to where they should place their efforts in order to continue adopting the necessary Industry4.0 technologies to become factories of the future and reinforce their competitiveness.  They are also matched with service providers that offer such funded services. With a budget of over €5.6 million, its primary goals are to: provide advice, expertise, and training to manufacturing SMEs and build a knowledge super grid in which service providers, experts and SMEs are the key players.

As Artificial Intelligence increasingly becomes an integral part of businesses’ operations, there must be continuous awareness of the opportunities that AI brings to improve productivity but also about the risks if new technology is left unchecked. The seminar included a discussion on the usefulness of the application on AI in the workplace when the necessary checks and balances are in place.

Chris Vassallo Cesareo, Deputy President at The Malta Chamber welcomed the employers, trade union representatives, experts and stakeholders, attending the morning’s seminar by highlighting the crucial role that AI plays in today’s businesses.

He said, “we strongly believe that any digitalisation and AI should still be human focused and led. Social dialogue continues to be vital for a strong democracy and good industrial relations.  Through this partnership, The Malta Chamber and the General Workers Union acknowledge the importance of the digital transition, the opportunities it brings to the workplace, but also the impact it may have on workers.’’

He concluded by saying that ‘’digitalisation and AI have a role to play in many sectors, and indeed, in its recommendations for the Next Legislature (Time to Step Up) as well as the 2023 National Budget.’’

The Malta Chamber stressed that investment in digitalisation, including enforcement agencies and the law courts should rank as one of the top priorities of Government in this legislature. Local businesses should be incentivised – through reductions in enrolment fees or tax incentives – to invest in their employees to undergo specialised IT related courses.

The first presentation introducing the seminar’s topic focused on the use of AI at the workplace. In his presentation, Joshua Ellul, Associate Professor at the University of Malta introduced the different means that AI can be applied in today’s offices and workspaces. As a tool, AI, if embraced and utilised correctly can provide endless possibilities in keeping businesses competitive.

This introductory presentation was followed by a keynote speech by Hon. Dr. Jo-Etienne Abela’s, Consultant of Surgery and Minister for the Elderly & Active Ageing, who explained the potential for innovation and success AI has in the medical field. In being able to harness the positive elements of this technology, doctors are now able to use AI-led tools that simplify major surgery.

In discussing the importance of having the right set of checks and balances within the workplace, Dr. James Scicluna, Partner at WH Partners took on this discussion from a legal perspective. He addressed the importance of having a regulatory framework that addresses the different forms of AI technology and its risks but that does not stem innovation. During this presentation, Dr. Scicluna explained the main elements of the legislative proposals currently being discussed at EU level to address exactly this, namely – The AI Act and the AI Liability Directive. Whilst the AI Act aims to set a legal framework on AI based on the level of risk, the AI Liability Directive introduces rules specific to damages caused by AI systems.

This event was concluded by a brief overview of the Digitalisation and AI-related projects currently being implemented at The Malta Chamber and The Malta Business Bureau. Businesses seeking to learn more about this topic can visit the websites of both organisations for more information.

For further information on the Transformwork Project, please contact The Malta Chamber and the Malta Business Bureau. 

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