Blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things are creating new opportunities to overhaul business models and even change whole societies. Why not Malta? Clearly, technology is expected to continue to disrupt the way we live, work and play and EY’s recently held Annual Attractiveness Event sought to provide answers to age old questions.
Over 800 public and private stakeholders gathered under one roof to discuss Malta’s future, and the significant impact technology is having on our varied industries. Keynote speakers Paul Brody (EY Global Blockchain Leader) and Keith Strier (EY’s Global Tech and Digital Leader, Americas AI Leader) challenged our little island to become the first country to implement Blockchain and machine learning, and become a world leader in the transition from owned gasoline cars to shared electric cars. With driverless cars expected to take off in the near future we need to start planning and effectively ‘think without the box.’
Clearly, technology is expected to continue to disrupt the way we live, work and play
This was just one of the innovative ideas discussed during the event which launched EY’s 2017 Attractiveness Survey, which gauges the perceptions of foreign investors here in Malta. The day-long event focused on harnessing the power of technology and aimed to spark off ideas to transform Malta into a technology hub that can address its own challenges head-on.
Many speakers urged Malta to act boldly as the long-term benefits will far outweigh any short-term pain. A live poll with the audience asked which technological development will help Malta break new ground, and AI came out on top with 46 per cent.
A dedicated break-out session titled ‘Life beyond technology’ explored what new advancements might be on the horizon and what Malta should be focusing on. Once again, AI was the hot topic as it affects every industry and every company. Even policy-makers are encouraged to automate a large number of repeated tasks through AI, to potentially improve efficiency and result in massive financial savings.
While the excitement over the potential applications of AI is understandable, there are some misconceptions – and indeed fears – developing. Central to that is the fear that AI will in fact replace humans in the value chain – doing the tasks we currently do, but faster and more accurately, and thus rendering many of us redundant. Speakers also dispelled these myths and outlined how AI will in fact enable us to work better, smarter and faster, rather than simply replacing humans in the workplace.
What will Malta’s next steps be? It is important that events such as EY’s serve as a catalyst for real change in thinking, as well as in our way of doing things. Judging by what we heard, living must truly go beyond technology.
To find out more on EY’s Annual Attractiveness Event and results please visit www.ey.com/mt/en/home/ey-attractiveness-survey-malta-2017
Simon Barberi is director at EY focusing on EU affairs and FDI.