Through the development of artificial intelligence to greater competitiveness of the private sector in Montenegro - IT should be set as a strategic branch of the economy

Source: eKapija Tuesday, 28.11.2023. 23:40
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The use of artificial intelligence can be a development opportunity for Montenegro and bring numerous benefits to the economy. Its potential was first recognized by the private sector, where it is already being used extensively. New technologies can be the future driver of economic development of Montenegro, so IT should be included as a strategic branch of the economy. The focus should be on the export of IT services, but also on the improvement of the business environment, both for domestic and foreign companies, and attracting their capital.

This is what Ivan Soc, founder of the Five Group company and president of the Committee for the Application of Artificial Intelligence and other advanced technologies, which was formed within the Association of Managers of Montenegro, said in an interview for eKapija.

As we heard at a conference in Belgrade, we have been living artificial intelligence for a very long time, and therefore nothing epochal has happened in this domain in the last year. However, ChatGPT has made it enter the big door into our lives and become widespread. That woke us up and we suddenly became aware of all its potential, but also the threats it carries.

Recognizing the numerous benefits of artificial intelligence, but also motivated by the increased need to bring order to this area, the Association of Managers of Montenegro (AMM) formed the Committee for the Application of Artificial Intelligence and other advanced technologies, the first of its kind in Montenegro. According to Ivan Soc, the Board itself is still relatively young, but in this short period they have already had a number of activities on that front.

- The board`s tasks are precisely defined in the name itself, that is, we are talking about the application of these technologies, with a special emphasis on artificial intelligence. The potential and opportunities offered by the application of advanced technologies in solving various problems in a wide range of activities are very large, and every day we see some new applications, and the idea is to implement as many such solutions as possible both in the economy and in the state administration - said Soc.

When it comes to the development of artificial intelligence in Montenegro, our interlocutor believes that it already has a significant application in the private sector.

Ivan Šoć (Photo: Asocijacija menadžera Crne Gore)Ivan Šoć
- In this segment, we have more and more examples of the use of this technology, and I think that this segment will only grow due to the natural need of the private sector to be competitive. When we talk about the application of this technology in the state administration, if we want to do it in the right way, then it is necessary to reorganize the infrastructure of our institutions and connect them to centralized registers first, while we absolutely must not neglect cyber security as an important component, which must follow this process. The possibilities are great, and a system like ours, which is not bulky, could be improved in a relatively short period of time precisely by introducing artificial intelligence, both for institutions and end users, i.e. citizens - says Soc.

With the popularization and increasingly massive application of artificial intelligence, numerous dilemmas are also open - from ethical issues, privacy protection, loss of jobs... And Goldman Sachs announced in one of its reports that globally around 300 million jobs are under threat - and not in the next 10, 15 or 20 years, but in the next four to five years. The interlocutor of eKapija says that the issues of controlling artificial intelligence and its development in the future are very complex, and nobody can give precise answers to them today.

- However, if we are talking from the perspective of Montenegro, it is not that we can influence too much some global trends. It is the great powers that dictate the direction of development and use of artificial intelligence. If we add to that the fact that this area has a very large application in the military industry, we could find a lot of reasons for concern. However, the statement that behind all this is still a man, inspires hope that the development of these technologies will be accompanied by the necessary protection measures against "loss of control" in the future - Soc points out.

He also believes that in the near future artificial intelligence will definitely affect the labor market.

- But this, on the other hand, could result, not only in the closing of jobs, but contribute to the distribution of jobs within the same companies to other positions. Even if we use this technology as an auxiliary tool in business, then instead of abolishing or distributing jobs, its application could increase their effectiveness and thus contribute to business development - he explains.

(Photo: Altmann)
When it comes to the legal regulation of the field of application of artificial intelligence in Montenegro, Šoć says that there is a plan for the regulation and application of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence.

When asked whether with the increasing popularization of artificial intelligence, the state`s cybersecurity is additionally threatened, Soc answers that, unrelated to the topic of artificial intelligence, hacker attacks have become more frequent, which means that the concept of cybersecurity is increasingly coming to the fore.

- This is a very important question. When we talk about security in cyber space, the problem is that the threats are the same both here and in much more developed countries that allocate much larger funds for this area. If we talk about protection against various hacker attacks, that is one segment that we will have to work on more and more, and there are certain standards that we have to follow. What is important to point out is that we must also take into account the high degree of protection of the data itself, that even if a hacker intrusion occurs in the system, from which no matter how developed your country is, there is no complete protection, you have procedures that could, to the greatest extent, ensure the protection of data in such and similar situations. Of course, the entire process must also be accompanied by education, because no matter how much the system is protected, the human factor is always present - says the eKapija interlocutor.

Artificial intelligence can find its application in digitization and digital transformation of society. However, if we are talking about Montenegro, these processes are talked about more, but in practice there is still a lot to be done.

- We can see that in some simple examples, when still a large part of the things that you could do online, via computer or phone, you have to do by going to a certain counter of an institution, waiting in line there, and then with that to go to another institution with a document and so on. From these examples, we see that we still do not have too many facilities that today`s technology enables, and we are talking about things that would make everyday life easier for our citizens. When we talk about administration and artificial intelligence, there is still work that has to be done before this technology could be implemented in the right way, but I already talked about that before, in one of the previous questions - says Soc.

(Photo: Altmann)
In the last few years, the IT sector has experienced strong growth, and Montenegro also has its chance for this industry, where the potentials are huge.

- Precisely one of the directions of the social movement, which I personally represent, is focused on how our society can be tomorrow and how to rely on this branch in an economic sense, especially through the export of IT services. In this way, a country like Montenegro can get a significant part of its finances from the foreign market, which increases the business standards of domestic companies.

He adds that there are several ways and modalities to improve the business environment, which could result in very accelerated growth of this branch of the economy.

- I think we should position IT as a strategic branch of the economy, and the focus should be on creating such a business environment that would primarily provide domestic companies with all the privileges and ease of doing business, but also attract foreign companies from these areas. Over time, a strong ecosystem would be built, which could seriously be the carrier of our economy in the near future - Ivan Soc concludes in the conversation with eKapija.

Dragana Obradovic
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