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We Asked A Robot To Write About Automating Malta’s Public Services. This Is The Result

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A few days ago, The Guardian ran a different kind of article, one written entirely by an AI language generator. After this article was published, we got in touch with Maltese AI expert Angelo Dalli to find software which could write an article from scratch about how automated services can affect Malta. This is the result. This article, written by an AI system called Transformer, is the final result. 

The introduction of automated government services will reduce corruption and bureaucracy in Malta, where the standard waiting time for a legal remedy in court can often be days, sometimes years.

Measures have also been taken to streamline the Maltese court decision procedure, which has been highlighted by observers as one of the main loopholes in the legal system, preventing justice from being served in a timely manner.

The introduction of judges specifically trained in electronic law systems is expected to reduce the number of unnecessary court sessions. Magistrates are also expected to delegate more decisions to qualified legal counsels, who will then submit the findings to the court, helping to speed up the legal process and enhance the country’s position as a jurisdiction that is recognised for the efficiency and fairness of its justice system.

The Prime Minister said in a statement that his government’s “aggressive” drive to turn government agencies into a profit-making business was creating a single digital platform that would save government money and free up resources for service delivery.

However, it is not certain whether Maltese citizens would be comfortable using such tools if they had not had any experience with them before. Automated tools would drastically reduce the over inflated number of hires within the civil service which has been used as a political tool in Malta for decades.

But as people are freed up to work on real problems rather than simply registering transactions, the island is unlikely to see an end to criminal conspiracy and corruption.

We agree that the development of the civil service is a matter of great concern to the nation and that in the interest of the country we must make every effort to enhance its efficiency. We totally agree that our public sector ought to serve the citizens and not be an extension of the political elite.

The problem, however, is not one of an excessive number of public sector posts. It is about their suitability. In this context, it is interesting to compare the role and role of the public sector in the development of the industrial, scientific and technological base of this country.

The Maltese economy was labour-intensive in its early years. With a limited infrastructure, there was the need to import all basic resources and import almost all manufactured goods. In the process, we initially failed to develop an internal supply of labour-intensive industrial activities, and more importantly, of technology-based activities.

In the years that followed, Maltese workers started being educated to take advantage of new technology, and started being exposed to new developments in technology and science.

We need to develop an industrial system that is less dependent on imported products and with internal resources and imports concentrated in such activities as engineering, AI and value-added manufacturing.

The second phase of automation could then be extended to alternative sustainable transportation. That includes electric, self-driving cars and at a stretch – a metro system.

Why the shift? One is not so much about saving money (though savings are involved) but more about serving the interest of the environment and sustainable transportation. Will self-driving cars save the transport sector from the effects of rising population and rising car ownership?

Or will it simply be another form of urban pollution, putting us on the path to uncontrolled urban sprawl and diminishing city quality? These are not so easy questions to answer. But what is abundantly clear is that in the near future, humans are no longer going to be involved in most of the driving processes.

So in a way, our future will be one with a lot less exhaust fumes, dust, pollution, congestion and air-quality problems. What does this mean for Malta? What exactly does this mean for commuters in a daily commute?

The truth is, one cannot say. But one can say that the changes are likely to happen quickly and therefore there is a need to prepare for the shift.

There has to be preparation for a situation where in the near future, for many commuters, a commute will no longer be an exercise in finding the best routes and in time a journey will be as efficient and convenient as any other journey we make. Self-driving vehicles are still not in their prime and can hardly be expected to radically change the commuting landscape in a few years.

But once the basics such as vehicle and infrastructure are in place, the day of mass transit could be at hand. The capacity of our roads is likely to be strained for quite some time with the non-stop development of Maltese cities and congestion concerns.

The prospect of a metro being developed within a few years should be a source of hope and no more so when other countries with similar pressing issues are embracing a technology that could revolutionise the way we live, work and travel in the same time.

This, however, will not come without difficulty, as the government itself admits. There is an obvious negative as well. Traffic problems and the general frustration caused by the poor state of the public transport system will mount.

At the same time, the possibility of our traffic problems being rendered virtually irrelevant because of an almost superhuman-like efficiency should be cause for celebration. It will be interesting to see how the public takes to the new features of public transport.

Recent experiments with modern cars on our roads show that most of us are very uncomfortable in autonomous vehicles and we expect the same from public transport vehicles.

This brings us to a third factor that is often overlooked in the context of public transport. What about the people who depend on public transport, many of whom may need to make decisions on how they will travel in future?

This is a significant challenge as local government cannot therefore take these individual requirements into consideration. It needs to plan infrastructure in terms of new mobility modes, but the present plan will be seen as trying to accommodate the needs of both old and new modes.

Perhaps this is not enough to prevent transport changes that many Maltese could not have foreseen from happening. For all the certainty that people may feel about their own future preferences, perhaps the uncertainty lies with Malta’s.

While some people have complained about the changes, no one really knows for sure what will happen. The picture is still too unclear for many people to predict exactly what kind of Malta their grandchildren may one day be living in.

People who advocate for the status quo are ‘climbing down the ladder’, but they themselves don’t have to get down to take the fall. To maintain the status quo is to encourage mediocrity and bad taste.

It’s unfortunate that the lack of sophistication and ability to say what needs to be said is the consequence of blind devotion to partisan politics.

The fact is that, whatever the outcome, change is always on the cards. But how should progress be measured? What are the best metrics? And, crucially, how do we learn from them? These questions form the backdrop for a debate which has been gathering pace within Maltese society, which is crying out for fresh perspectives.

Changes to our identity and to our future will bring about a new kind of order which will be irrevocable, and will have to be judged by history and future generations.

Angelo Dalli

Angelo Dalli

About The Process

This article was written by an AI system called Transformer, which is a cutting edge language model that is trained on millions of text documents to produce articles and text snippets that look like they have been written by humans.

For this article, the system was given these instructions: “Please write an opinion piece of focusing on automated services in Malta.”

It was also fed the following introduction: “The introduction of automated government services will reduce corruption and bureaucracy in Malta” and the following two talking points: “This would drastically reduce the over inflated number of hires within the civil service which has been used as a political tool in Malta for decades.” and “The second phase of automation could then be extended to alternative sustainable transportation.”

The instructions were written by Lovin Malta and then sent to Transformer by the Maltese AI expert Angelo Dalli to produce three different outputs, one for the introduction and two for each talking point. These outputs were minimally edited to capture the different styles of the AI, without changing any of the text written by the AI itself.

What topics would you like Transformer to tackle? Send in your suggestions in the comments section below 

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