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Minister for the Digital Transformation Dr Stojmenova Duh in Tokyo about the challenges of artificial intelligence

Minister for Digital Transformation, Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh, met with prominent representatives of the Japanese government, business and academia working in the field of digital transformation at the start of her official visit to Tokyo on 21 and 22 of November 2022. She also took part in a roundtable discussion on country practices and challenges of global cooperation in the development and use of artificial intelligence, organised by the GPAI on 22 of November 2022.

The ministerial roundtable, which took place in the margins of the Ministerial Meeting of the the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, was also attended by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology of India, Janil Puthucheary, Minister of Communications and Information of Singapore, Petr Očko, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, responsible for Digitalisation and Innovation, and José Gustavo Sampaio Gontijo, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil. They stressed that artificial intelligence has enormous potential for finding solutions to some of society's most pressing issues, while also stressing that the ethical aspect of using this technology must also be taken into account. Appropriate government strategies are therefore essential to foster confidence in and use of AI, they argued.

Minister Dr Stojmenova Duh told the roundtable that the number of experts in the field of artificial intelligence should be increased, and in particular the interest for this field should be strengthened among women. There is also a need to bring together government, business, civil society, academia and research.

The Minister stressed the need to raise people's awareness so that they understand and recognise the enormous potential of AI, which must therefore be of high quality, transparent and ethical, people-centred and for the benefit of people. "In Slovenia, AI is one of the priority areas for digital transformation: we have more than 40 years of research experience and more than 30 years of experience in higher education," she said.

Slovenia's international recognition for this, she said, is the establishment of the International Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, which was set up in Ljubljana in 2021 under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Slovenian experts at the Jožef Stefan Institute have also worked together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to set up the Observatory for Artificial Intelligence, and we are also setting up a National Observatory for the technology, the Slovenian Minister for Digitalisation added.

Minister also met with representatives of the Miraikan National Museum of Science and Innovation, which is considered an exemplary example of cooperation between universities and the research sector in projects on environmental protection, space exploration and life sciences. Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh also visited Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, where she was received by Secretary of State Hiroshi Yoshida. They agreed that through digitisation we need to balance economic development, address concrete challenges and create a better society centred on people and their well-being.

The visit to Japan Post was particularly important for further deepening bilateral cooperation between Slovenia and Japan. At Japan Post, Minister met with Hiroya Masuda, President of Japan Post, and Yasuhisa Iida, CEO of Japan Post. Japan Post is a role model for postal services around the world, with an excellent network of branches across the country, where it is able to provide literacy and digital skills training to citizens, especially the elderly. At the same time, the Minister and the hosts announced that Japan and Slovenia will launch a pilot project to strengthen the role of post offices in the field of digital literacy on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Digital transformation was also at the centre of the Minister's meeting with Koichi Akaishi, Japan's Deputy Minister for Digital Transformation, and Toshiyuki Zanma, who heads the Digital Agency's international strategy. The two exchanged experiences and good practices on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the data economy, training and attracting IT professionals, the status of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions, and the challenges of hate speech and disinformation. They also stressed the need to focus on the user, their competence and their confidence in the use of technology when designing digital services.