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The future of AI between the power of thought and the strength of the algorithm

  • Rome
  • 30 November 2023

        The public sector has begun to regulate Artificial Intelligence (AI) – starting with the new executive order issued by the US administration – bringing us into a new phase. This step forward by an individual nation, which aims to delineate a government strategy and to define new standards, will have an enormous global impact given America’s prominence in this field. In a parallel move, Europe has become politically engaged on the AI front in an attempt to balance regulation with the need to avoid suffocating a sector already suffering from serious delays – first and foremost on the level of financing – as compared with America and China. 

        While China has reaffirmed its state-monopoly grip – particularly when it comes to the dual use of military technologies – the United Kingdom’s essentially laissez-faire approach should also be underscored. 

        The global change, however, lies in the shift from a debate on the need for AI regulation to consideration of the proper governance of the transformation triggered by this technology. The precondition is an accurate reflection on how best to develop and employ this instrument in a responsible manner; what is needed is a proactive approach in which ethics is not ancillary but rather a founding part of the process (ethics by design). The debate on the fundamental ethics of AI must involve not only experts, but a multistakeholder framework involving from companies, users, citizens and public opinion in general. The media’s role is pivotal in projecting a constructive AI narrative and not fueling irrational fears that can lead to wrong political and regulatory choices. 

        To discuss the ethics of AI it is necessary to take a step backward and consider it in terms of any other technology: a social construct that responds to the demands of people and impacts on their lives. The invention more than 500 years ago of the printing press led to a change in mentality that transformed the vision of reality and the individual. Today’s development of AI poses comparable challenges, but ones to be confronted within the narrow timelines of technological progress.


        In particular, Large Language Models (LLM) constitute the latest and most effective effort at unclogging the bottleneck that has formed at the human/computer interface; now, after the introduction of the keyboard, mouse and touch screens, language is coming to the fore as the most immediate solution to dialogue with machines. The challenges this model sets are numerous, beginning with those regarding education.

        ducation, continuous learning and critical thinking are central to navigating change and also to the efforts which businesses are called to make. The entrepreneurial fabric must increasingly open itself to a sweeping innovation that is making allies of industry, government, training and research. At the same time, company organizational culture must change with a view to adopting more collaborative approaches and circular-learning systems. The enormous opportunities generated by the digital revolution, however, also call for the completion of what is considered the core of a digitalization process that stands on three pillars: the cloud, data and analytics, and AI, which together will be guiding competitiveness and productivity growth in the coming years; indeed, the market is preparing for a new cycle of innovation based on companies being more receptive and technologies more mature and assimilable.

        The scenario is one that finds Italy lagging behind in many respects; yet, gains are being made in international rankings thanks above all to the diffusion of cloud technology and progress in improving digital skills. The country must pursue and support this path if it wishes to reap the benefits that the revolution underway can bring to Italy’s economic fabric, with increased competitiveness and reshoring efforts, capable of triggering positive fallout on jobs and incomes.

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