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Europe’s Digital Transformation: Embracing the AI Opportunity

AI, the next frontier for Greece’s growth and competitiveness

Athens, June 27. Microsoft together with AmCham Greece co-hosted a roundtable discussion around AI as part of Microsoft’s European Cloud and AI campaign. Present at the event were government officials and members of the opposition, academia, and representatives from various industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals, energy, defense, banking, and construction.

The participants explored the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on society and economy. AmCham’s President, Mr. Nikolaos Bakatselos expressed the usefulness of ChatGPT in specific cases and emphasized the importance of harnessing AI for social well-being. Antigoni Papanikolaou, Microsoft Greece highlighted the role of AI as a copilot rather than an autopilot and emphasized the need for responsible AI development. She also touched upon the need to strike a balance between regulating high-risk AI and promoting innovation, ensuring that AI always remains under human oversight.

Simon Tomer from Microsoft Israel discussed the imminent wave of new technologies and identified AI as the defining technology of our time. He noted that ChatGPT has experienced the fastest adoption rate in history and highlighted the democratizing and defensive capabilities of AI. Microsoft’s significant investment in responsible AI, supported by a team of 350 engineers and lawyers, was mentioned. Additionally, the unique aspect of GenAI was emphasized, as it not only predicts but also assists governments and organizations in shaping the future. The accessibility of AI to students was seen as a forthcoming development.

Professor Lambrinoudakis, an executive member of the Hellenic Data Protection Authority, recognized the benefits of AI but stressed the need to protect fundamental human rights. He discussed the risk-based approach at the core of the AI Act and highlighted the importance of transparency, copyright issues, and the protection of personal data.

Professor Kalyvas from Oxford University addressed the sociopolitical impact of AI, emphasizing its potential to provide better solutions for social issues. He highlighted the importance of ensuring that AI benefits everyone and pondered whether democracies or authoritarian regimes are better equipped to handle AI-related challenges, leaning towards the former.

Professor Mitrou from Aegean University expressed the view that innovation should be supported and allowed to flourish, irrespective of regulation. She also emphasized the role of governments in assisting those with limited knowledge of digital technologies. AI’s potential to enhance productivity, accelerate innovation, and democratize technology was highlighted.

During the discussion, notable remarks were made by Mr. Mastrogeorgiou, Special Secretary to the Greek Prime Minister, who acknowledged Microsoft’s commitment to Greece and expressed the government’s intention to focus more on AI to ensure the country benefits from its offerings. Mr. Nounesis, President, and Director of the National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos”, compared AI’s impact to that of mathematics and stressed its acceleration of advancements across scientific disciplines. Representatives from the pharmaceutical sector shared their positive experiences with AI, citing its revolutionary impact. Mr. Kavounides, Managing Director of BCG mentioned that AI would not only enhance business efficiency but also create entirely new business models, which could particularly benefit Greek SMEs by providing access to a broader range of data. Members of the opposition stressed the need to raise awareness and convince people that AI can benefit everyone. Mr. Nikolopoulos, Head of Applied R&D, Technology, and Digital Innovation at Mytilinaios, a prominent energy company, highlighted how AI is reshaping the energy sector and called for adjustments in EU procurement and funding processes to accommodate rapid technological changes.

Ms. Barmpetaki, Managing Director, AbbVie, representing the Pharma Innovation, expressed that AI will develop the potentials of R&D on Pharma Technology for the betterment of patients’ life.

Mr. Kretsos, Syriza, referred to the need for information technology leadership programs in schools for building  children’s necessary skills for the safety adoption of AI Technology and innovative social media. He added that the skilling will contribute to the digital transformation and the development of Greece’s potential.

Mr. Zervakis, COO, EFA Group stressed that it is important for the companies for the adoption of AI, and this will be succeeded by reskilling of their staff, in parallel he expressed that AI would advance the quality of life in general. Relevant legislation is necessary.

In conclusion, it was noted that regulation should serve as an enabler rather than a hindrance to innovation. AI was seen as having the potential to bring significant benefits to society and offer improved solutions to various problems.