On 24 November 2021, the Italian Council of Ministers approved the Strategic Programme for Artificial Intelligence (AI) 2022-2024, prepared jointly by the Ministry of University and Research, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition with the support of the Working Group on the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.
Artificial intelligence (AI) – i.e. the set of digital models, algorithms and technologies capable of “reproducing human experiences” such as perception, reasoning, interaction and learning – is already a central factor in the digital transformation of society and will certainly affect productivity, technological development and advanced analytical activities in all sectors in the near future.
The program, in line with the European Strategy, outlines the areas of intervention and twenty-four policies to be implemented in the next three years to strengthen the AI system in Italy, thus aiming to make Italy a center of excellence, through the creation and strengthening of skills, research, development programs, applications and encouraging technology transfer.
Sources of investment, both European and National, to support each policy have already been identified.
The Strategic Program for the three-year period 2022-2024, outlines:
- 6 objectives: indicating the ambitions of the Italian strategy,
- 11 priority areas: indicating where Italy intends to concentrate investments,
- 3 areas of intervention: which indicate how the country aims to achieve the stated objectives. The area of focus related to the application of AI in industries and PA has particular relevance for us at Humanativa. This intervention will promote the Transition 4.0 through the birth and growth of innovative AI companies.
Six are the objectives identified by the program to consolidate the strengths and overcome the weaknesses of Italian AI:
Objective 1: Strengthen frontier research in AI, both “fundamental and applied”. This will generate an impact on the priority sectors of industry, the public sector, society and the environment. In this perspective, to generate “innovation ecosystems”, research will have to be accompanied by industrial and social innovation.
Objective 2: Reduce the fragmentation of AI research so as to promote network collaborations while stimulating both scientific excellence and social inclusiveness and territorial cohesion.
Objective 3: Develop and adopt human-centric and trustworthy AI in the public and private sectors so that AI solutions comply with current regulations and are accepted by society while supporting the development and design of responsible AI technologies and systems.
Objective 4: Increase AI-based innovation and AI technology development by promoting industrial investments and partnerships that transfer research results to the market, thus facilitating the adoption of AI in SMEs.
Objective 5: Develop AI-based policies and services in the public sector by promoting innovation, the adoption of artificial intelligence solutions and cooperation between research centres, industries and public bodies.
Objective 6: Create, retain and attract AI researchers in Italy by promoting AI at all levels of education to create a new generation of researchers and innovators with the aim of making Italy an attractive destination for qualified foreign researchers, while maintaining a particular focus on diversity and gender balance.
The main sectors that will benefit from the program are those in which Italy already has a competitive advantage, such as manufacturing, cultural, agri-food and health, but also strategic industries for the technological development of the country, such as national security, information technology and the environment.
Among the eleven sectors identified by the program, those of particular interest, because they are consistent with the skills we have gained to date, concern:
- Information technology. The applications of artificial intelligence in the areas identified in the programme require a high level of innovation in the areas of computing that affect artificial intelligence, such as detection, reasoning and research, natural language processing, computer vision, human-AI interaction and edge computing.
IT plays a crucial role in ensuring a high level of innovation for the implementation of competitive AI in all different applications. One of the main interventions of the program will be dedicated to supporting the birth and growth of Italian IT companies.
- National security. Italy is committed to investing in artificial intelligence applications that guarantee the safety of its citizens, both as regards individual and national cybersecurity, and in this context AI has contributed with the development of next-generation detection and resolution software.
- Environment, infrastructure and networks. AI solutions will have a significant impact on conserving resources, reducing emissions, managing traffic flows and related risks, strengthening the circular economy and preventing natural disasters. Artificial intelligence can certainly also play a decisive role in the development of 5G networks, being able to help improve network performance and reduce expenses associated with the distribution/management of infrastructure. Other examples include intelligent monitoring and management of networks and consumption, monitoring and predictive management of the waste cycle, situational and predictive analysis of hydrogeological instability.
- Banking, finance and insurance. New artificial intelligence technologies will allow banks and insurance companies to improve their services in at least two ways. On the one hand, the ability to customize and implement transaction security will affect the quality of the services offered, also contributing to cost reduction. On the other hand, artificial intelligence applications will strengthen fraud prevention systems and simplify the fulfilment of intermediaries’ obligations through the adoption of mechanisms to detect suspicious behaviour and analyse data and documents.
- Public administration. In the near future, AI will contribute to optimizing administrative processes by increasing the efficiency of the PA system and quality of services, through innovative solutions for flow management, with the introduction of virtual assistants and support chatbots, thus allowing citizens to access services more quickly and also reducing costs.
Some application examples include: smart parking, traffic management and signage control, self-driving vehicle management systems, lighting management and public transport optimization, as well as bridge and building monitoring, building automation.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN COMPANIES
Italian companies, large and small, have so far been slow to adopt artificial intelligence solutions, resulting in a limited AI market.
To foster the emergence and growth of innovative AI companies, the program aims to accompany the growth of sectors that have so far shown promising results in the development and adoption of AI.
To this end, this strategy identifies two areas of intervention that we believe to have the greatest impact that are particularly strategic.
AI to modernize enterprises
AI will facilitate a real revolution in the modus operandi of companies, intervening on internal processes and customer relationships, also favoring the development of new products and services based on artificial intelligence.
With the application of AI, Italian companies will be able to realize the transformation by hiring new talent, training the existing workforce and ensuring that this transition takes place with an effective and responsible use of artificial intelligence solutions.
IA modernizzare la pubblica amministrazione
Come detto, il passaggio al nuovo paradigma tecnologico basato sull’IA influenzerà fortemente la pubblica amministrazione. Grazie all’IA, infatti, la PA italiana ha l’opportunità di allinearsi a un processo di modernizzazione che non può più essere evitato. L’utilizzo dell’IA consente alle pubbliche amministrazioni di adeguare e personalizzare l’offerta dei servizi e in generale sfruttare le grandi basi dati generate al loro interno per ampliare i servizi del settore pubblico e le opportunità di integrazione con i privati (per esempio in sanità e nella mobilità).
AI modernize public administration
As mentioned, the transition to the new technological paradigm based on AI will strongly influence public administration. Thanks to AI, in fact, the Italian PA has the opportunity to align itself with a modernization process that can no longer be avoided. The use of AI allows public administrations to adapt and personalize the offer of services and in general exploit the large databases generated within them to expand public sector services and opportunities for integration with private individuals (for example in health and mobility).
Public administration can become a real engine of AI development, thanks to the data it produces and its role as a potential buyer of innovative goods and servic