Study on potential impact of AI on government services

More than 160 areas of government works and services in which artificial intelligence could become applicable are being investigated, revealed Interior Minister and Ministerial Committee for Information and Communications Technology (MCICT) chairman General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa last night.

He said the ministerial committee will study both opportunities and risks, as well as the adequacy of legislation to protect individuals and businesses.

It will conclude with a proposal for an ethical charter to regulate its work and govern its development.

The minister pointed out that Bahrain had already established a strong infrastructure for the communications sector with the percentage of Internet users today reaching 100 per cent among all segments and groups of society.

Gen Shaikh Rashid added that this leadership was clearly reflected in the comprehensive transformation of electronic services and systems, the usage rate of which had reached 90pc.

To keep pace with developments, he explained that security concepts had to be continually updated with a five-year plan under implementation.

“Cybersecurity and information security have become one of the most important pillars of comprehensive security, which constitutes the main priority in protecting vital and strategic interests,” he added.

“I would like to point out that the Ministerial Committee for Information and Communications Technology has formed a committee to examine the capabilities and areas of application of artificial intelligence, by studying more than 160 areas of its application, assessing opportunities and risks, and the adequacy of legislation to protect individuals, and developing a proposal for an ethical charter to regulate its work and govern its development, in order to build a societal culture. It will enhance dealing with artificial intelligence.”

He was speaking at the official opening of the three-day 10th International eGovernment Forum.

“Technological development in the field of information and communications technology, which is occurring at rapid rates, brings new concepts in the field of security,” he said.

“The challenge is to achieve security in its comprehensive sense across an entire system to include – in addition to public security – economic, social and intellectual security.”

He believes the government’s high technical readiness and comprehensive digital transformation had prompted a blueprint for the future.

“This has helped us plan for the future and benefit from this success by launching the first national strategy for the digital economy,” said the minister.

“The Royal Directives emphasise the use of modern technology in the service of society to improve the lives of citizens.”

The event, under the patronage of the minister, is being held at Exhibition World Bahrain in Sakhir. It concludes tomorrow.

The minister praised the support and follow-up of the government, headed by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, for the constructive initiatives that contribute to developing government performance.

“Bahrain is a pioneer in development and digital transformation, inspired by the lofty royal vision of His Majesty King Hamad,” he said.

He added that the Bahrain International eGovernment Forum provided a comprehensive framework for presenting the best electronic initiatives, ideas and projects that contribute to supporting the construction and development process that the kingdom is experiencing.

“After societies used to live a simple life, and the transactions of individuals in them were limited and required a lot of time and effort to complete them, we now find that 66pc of the world’s population is connected to the Internet, in light of the renaissance of the technology sector,” he added.

“This constituted a new way of life at a faster pace in all societies, which contributed to raising aspirations and requirements for providing high-quality electronic services.”

The minister explained that based on the government’s keenness to improve the performance and services it provides, its work programme for the years (2023-2026) included pushing for more digital services and transactions in the work of ministries and government agencies, while seeking to enhance innovation, evaluation and measurement of the quality of services provided to the public.

“It included a series of national programmes and initiatives that ensured this government approach, such as the initiative to evaluate government service centres to ensure that their work keeps pace with international practices in customer service,” he said.

“Technological development in the field of information and communications technology, which is taking place at rapid rates, has imposed new concepts in the field of security, which national institutions will implement during the next five years.”

The inaugural COMEX Bahrain Technology Show 2023 is taking place concurrently with the forum.

It features major international and regional companies, alongside government entities.

Dedicated sections have been reserved for ICT organisations from the GCC, while others feature diverse companies, tech entrepreneurs and individual contributors operating within the technology landscape.

Meanwhile, iGA chief executive Mohammed Al Qaed gave a presentation on the technical readiness and the high level of maturity of the technical environment in Bahrain.

The presentation also included reference to the framework for employing innovation and modern technologies through exploration, analysis and evaluation, participation, institutional structure and diffusion.

It stressed that innovation was a fundamental driver of sustainable development and focusing on it as an institutional culture in the next stage to accelerate comprehensive digital transformation.

“Bahrain is one of the first countries to launch a national government network, providing the operating environment for more than 5,000 government systems and services,” said Mr Al Qaed.

Renowned AI expert Nina Schick spoke at the event about the expected growth of the AI market from $500 million to more than $8 billion in 2026.

A short tech film was screened before the awards were presented.




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