Need for AI Legislative Framework Emphasized at Nicosia Conference
Digital Skills Gap Highlighted in Cypriot Workforce
The Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation, and Digital Policy, Philippos Hadjizacharia, highlighted the urgent need for a legislative framework around artificial intelligence during a conference held in Nicosia on Tuesday.
He clarified, "AI doesn't aim to supplant human intelligence. Rather, it serves as a tool to augment our innate capabilities."
Hadjizacharia went on to detail Cyprus' advancements in IT. "We've made significant progress, but that doesn't mean we're resting on our laurels," he remarked. He emphasized the importance of integrating AI across both public and private sectors and conducting a comprehensive review of challenges this technology may introduce.
"To compete on a global scale and maintain Cyprus' competitive edge, we need innovative, cutting-edge solutions that drive growth across various socio-economic areas," stated the Deputy Minister.
Drawing on discussions from the MED9 ministerial meeting in Malta last week, Hadjizacharia shared that the creation of a legislative framework for AI was a central topic. He added that EU legislation around AI is nearing completion and is poised to be the first of its kind globally, reflecting European values.
He also mentioned the national IT strategy approved by the Cypriot government in 2020. "The upcoming EU legislation is vital for fine-tuning and executing our national strategy," he affirmed.
In a related speech, Professor Chrysostomos Nikias, President Emeritus and Professor at the University of Southern California, defined AI as creating systems that can sense, learn from, and reason about their environment. He praised Cyprus' growth in the tech domain, asserting, "Cyprus is primed for an AI surge." However, he also underscored a gap in digital skills among the Cypriot workforce. He shared a concerning statistic: only 13% of university graduates in Cyprus are from STEM fields, with just 4% being women, compared to the 26% average in the EU. "There's a pressing need to revitalize STEM education here," he emphasized.
Professor Nikias expressed his optimism about the Cypriot research centers and their innovative pursuits. He commended the efforts of the Deputy Minister of Innovation and the organizers of the conference, stressing, "Collaboration between academia, and both private and public sectors, is the key to propelling AI in this burgeoning field."