Legal framework needed for AI

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It is imperative to create a legislative framework for artificial intelligence (AI), said Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Minister Philippos Hadjizacharia.

Hadjizacharia told a conference in Nicosia: “Artificial Intelligence does not replace human intelligence, but is a means of enhancing human ingenuity and intelligence.”

He said Cyprus is not at an infant stage in using IT, and “we are not complacent”.

He argued it is appropriate to include artificial intelligence at the public and private levels and thoroughly examine the challenges that will be brought about by applying such an advanced technological tool.

“To compete equally with foreign economies and keep Cyprus high in competitiveness, we must introduce smart, innovative and competitive solutions for the purpose of development and improvement in a wide socio-economic spectrum.

“EU legislation for this purpose is at a mature stage, and when completed, it will be the world’s first legal framework for artificial intelligence, setting a standard that will be governed by European values.

“At the state level, the Cypriot government approved the national IT strategy in 2020; however, the legislation expected from the EU is crucial for refining and implementing our national strategy,” said Hadjizacharia.

Professor Chrysostomos Nikias, President Emeritus of the University of Southern California (USC), said that artificial intelligence is about building a system to perceive the environment, learn from it and reason.

“Cyprus has been making progress in the field of technology and has a great potential to grow its technology industry.

“It’s almost the perfect place for an AI boom,” he said.

Nikias also argued that many employees in Cyprus lack digital skills.

“In Cyprus, only 13% of university graduates are STEM graduates (of which 4% are women), in contrast to 26% in the EU.

“We need to reignite interest in STEM in our education.”

Professor Nikias said he was “positively surprised” by the research centres in Cyprus and the innovations they promote.

“Only the partnerships between academics, the private and public sectors can promote AI in this revolutionary field that is being created”.