In November Italy has adopted the “Strategic Plan for Artificial Intelligence (AI) 2022-2024”. Twentyfour identified policies will have to be implemented in the next three years, with the aim to strengthen the italian artificial intelligence sector. This plan comprises, essentially, the creation of digital skills through education and the development of AI-related research.
In the global artificial intelligence context, which is particularly competitive, Italy’s results are less pessimistic as they might be imagined. Even if there is a limited use of digital services in Italy, the majority of italian businesses has claimed to have launched at least one project of AI in 2020. Moreover, research centers and italian experts in AI-related sectors have rapidly grown in the last years.
Nonetheless, a recent report, drafted by the italian government, has identified the main problems in the development of the AI in the country. Weaknesses include the research fragmentation, the insufficient attraction of foreign talents, the limited italian patent system’s capacity and the gender gap in this sector (women researchers are just the 19.6% of AI projects’ personnel).
The Plan 2022-2024 was designed with the aim to allow Italy to take advantage of the artificial intelligence, able to spread and transform nearly every economic, social and industrial field of a country. The role this plan will have for the future of the country is crucial: it will allow Italy to be back again in the global digital competition and it will make possible to relaunch italian businesses using algorithms and big data.
The new strategy is the result of a joint action of the Ministry of University and Research, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition. One of the aims, promoted by the Ministry of University and Research, is to create an adequate environment for the italian youth, who wants to pursue AI-related study paths. The Ministry of Economic Development highlights the importance of the plan for what concerns the AI sector’s development and the digitalization of the italian public sector. Last but not least, to push Italy back into the global competition, through research programs and investments, is the main aim of the Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition.
The plan envisages a series of policies in three main areas: talents and skills, research, applications. Among the initiatives dedicated to talents and skills, there are measures aimed at increasing the number of PhDs and at attracting the best researchers in the AI sector. The plan, moreover, wants to promote courses and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in both universities and in technical colleges, in order to strengthen digital skills related to artificial intelligence.
To improve italian research, the plan highlights the necessity for collaboration between the academic field, businesses, public institutions and society as a whole. Research needs to be encouraged through the creation of new academic chairs and new innovation calls for bids. The plan also includes the launch of an italian platform, comprising data and softwares related to the AI, created through the connection of several existing platforms.
Substantial funds are needed to link the research on and the application of artificial intelligence. The plan provides for the distribution of those funds in a short time.
The policies aimed at widening the application of artificial intelligence involve businesses and the italian public administration. Measures concerning businesses aim at supporting the transition 4.0 and at encouraging the growth of start-ups, to help them through testing and validation.
For what concerns the measures regarding the public administration, they include the creation of data infrastructure, in order to take advantage of big data’s potential in all safety. Moreover, it is deemed crucial the simplification of public services’ offer, as well as their improvement, through the strengthening of GovTech.
To efficiently monitor the strategy’s implementation, and to coordinate government’s initiatives, a permanent group in the Committee for Digital Transition was established.
Translated by Greta Thierry