ROME -- The first-ever Group of 20 talks on the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics wrapped up Thursday in the Italian port city of Genoa, with participants calling for increased collaboration between government policymakers and the private sector in high-tech areas.
According to a statement released jointly by the Group of 20 (G20) and the Instituto Italiano di Technologia (IIT, Italian Institute of Technology), discussions centered around key areas including the role of AI and robotics in industrial and other labor sectors, as well as ethical implications of the technologies, the role they can play in sustainable development, their function in cutting-edge areas, such as space exploration, and even their role in popular culture.
Participating in the talks were representatives from G20 members, the private sector and research institutions.
According to Giorgio Metta, IIT's scientific director, the two days of talks were important for the G20, for Italy, and for the city of Genoa.
"This event represents an excellent opportunity to showcase the importance of these topics and the capacity of Genoa as an emerging high-tech hub," Metta said.
Maria Chiara Carrozza, president of the National Research Council of Italy, participated via video link from Rome. She told those on hand that traditional systems for research and development were less relevant than they have been.
"The idea of the ivory tower has long been outdated," Carrozza said in a reference to traditional academic research entities. "What the research environment needs now is patent protection and informed investors."
She said the kind of forum organized in Genoa was valuable as a way to stress certain priorities: "We must ensure that scientific entities present evidence to the political leaders that can be used to help them make policies for the good of its citizens," she said.
Another speaker, Pierpaolo Bombardieri, general secretary of UIL, an Italian trade union, said labor groups should embrace the use of AI and robotics.
"The world of work is changing with dramatic speed, and that is transforming job duties and the relationships between employers and employees," Bombardieri said. "The challenge we face is how to fairly distribute the benefits produced by new technologies like digitalization and artificial intelligence and to avoid, as is happening now, a scenario where the benefits are concentrated in the hands of a few people."
Other speakers at the event included Roberto Cingolani, Italy's minister for ecological transition, and astronaut Walter Villadei.