The Minister of Digital Governance, Dimitris Papastergiou, referred to the distinctions that gov.gr has won,
With the participation of the Ministers of Interior, Labor and Digital Governance, the Deputy Ministers of Culture and Digital Governance, a large number of general secretaries, directors of agencies and thousands of delegates from Greece and abroad, the work of the 13th Teamworks e-Government Forum was completed.
Almost three and a half years since gov.gr entered our lives with a tripling of digital services, a hundredfold digital transactions with the State, a huge convenience for citizens, who now avoid time-consuming bureaucratic procedures.
But where has the digital transformation of the country reached? How far can it still go and how much Artificial Intelligence has a place in it? Is the goal of Artificial Intelligence clear to citizens? By 2027 is it possible to digitize all state interactions, as originally planned?
Government officials and institutional bodies were asked to answer these reasonable questions, and many more, during the two-day conference, which also included independent conferences on Digital Health and Cybersecurity in the public and private sectors.
For the majority of delegates/citizens, the answers to these questions also determine the subsequent digital course. They create meaningful strategies and policies that will help drive the country to the desired digital goal.
N. Kerameos: Citizens want innovation in the State
The heads of the public sector are invited to set goals for the coming year and to examine the tools of Artificial Intelligence in order to achieve an optimal targeting, the Minister of the Interior Niki Kerameos pointed out in her opening speech. As he explained, the ultimate goal is none other than how to improve the service to the citizen and offer him better services.
According to Mrs. Kerameos, Artificial Intelligence has entered the everyday life of the public sector for good. “We have an innovation system in operation in which we attempt the production, integration, and dissemination of innovation for a better State. There is a dedicated innovation best practice service, and there is also the innovation practice repository. All civil servants of the country have the possibility to deposit in the repository a good innovative practice that they apply in their field. All employees of public bodies can contribute to this national innovation plan,” the minister pointed out.
Concluding her speech, Ms. Kerameos explained that, based on studies, it is proven that citizens trust employees who work in organizations that innovate. Citizens want innovation, they support innovation, they want it in the public sector, he noted.
“I want to take this step to say a big thank you to the civil servants who innovate, who come forward, who are original”, emphasized Mrs. Kerameos.
Ad. Georgiadis: General artificial intelligence will be the intersection of humanity
“We are in a conference of particular importance, because it foresees all that will happen in the future”, pointed out the Minister of Labor and Social Security, Adonis Georgiadis.
As he mentioned, the appearance and speed of the spread of AI is going to change the world we live in, to an extent that today we can hardly perceive. However, the way in which the creation of general artificial intelligence will be presented to humanity is also the main bet.
For Mr. Georgiadis, general artificial intelligence will be the intersection of humanity and for some, perhaps the end of it. For the first time, there will be another type of intelligence that in a few years on the job market will change everything.
The minister explained that never before had changes been made at the speed they will be made now, so people are worried about what their place will be in the new world that is being “born”. “What I can say, more as a historian than as a politician, is that at the start of every great technological revolution, people were afraid that they would lose their jobs and not be able to survive. However, in practice it turned out that this danger not only did not exist, but humanity could and did take many steps forward,” said the minister:
“Conferences like today’s are necessary to prepare, as quickly as we can, to be able to find our own place in the new world that is dawning”, concluded Mr. Georgiadis.
D. Papastergiou: The first AI chatbot in public services is in the testing phase
The Minister of Digital Governance, Dimitris Papastergiou, referred to the distinctions that gov.gr has won, with access to over 1,600 public services, which are now done from our computer, distinctions that actually concern the high level of services offered to customers ( i.e. all of us).
As he said, the goal is for the more than 3,000 recorded procedures of the State to go to gov.gr, while in the testing phase it is one of the first, worldwide, artificial intelligence chatbots in public services. The AI chatbot will converse in writing with gov.gr users and will offer detailed information on costs and procedures, understanding the context of each conversation.
Regarding the future of gov.gr beyond Artificial Intelligence, Mr. Papastergiou stated that the interoperability and certification offered by the operating platform will eliminate the need for any certificate, especially within the public services, but also externally in entering into contracts with third parties, with the user simply giving approval from his mobile phone for the use of his data and signing the contracts.
“2024 will be a very exciting year for the new digital Greece, which in order to be realized needs all of us,” said the Minister of Digital Governance. Referring to the problem of lack of staff, as well as the lack of skills, he said that they are huge issues and we must all work together in this direction. “Nevertheless, I believe that 2024 will be an exciting digital year with a faster and brighter Greece”, concluded Mr. Papastergiou.
K. Kyranakis: There is no agreement with the notaries
The Deputy Minister of Digital Governance, Konstantinos Kyranakis, referred to the “controversy” that exists between the government and the notaries, who are reacting to the digitization of part of the procedures. He pointed out that despite the temporary “truce”, there is no agreement with the central union that represents them, in everything to do with the digitization of contracts, while he made extensive reference to the digitization works of the Land Registry.
In addition, he pointed out the need to reverse the Brain Drain and with the presence of a large number of IT students in the room, he spoke about the innovation competitions organized by the Ministry of Digital Governance and the government’s national plan for the development of innovative entrepreneurship.
“We can export innovation abroad. We as an organization have committed ourselves and we will do it. We will buy mechanisms made by student robotics teams, because we believe in the new generation. We believe that the main reason for the flight of young people in previous years is that the new generation is not recognized by the State, something that I had felt in the past. We at the Land Registry and as a whole at the Ministry of Digital Governance recognize this and want the students to know that we will buy the innovative ideas”, emphasized Mr. Kyranakis unequivocally.
In his more general position on the IT industry, the Deputy Minister pointed out that the country takes IT very seriously, something it has proven in recent years. He mentioned the projects that are “running” and of great importance, such as digitization in health, digitization in justice and digitization in real estate. “These three areas, which require very big changes at many levels, are the priorities we have set together with Minister Dimitris Papastergiou”, said Mr. Kyranakis.
X. Dimas: Innovation requires a change of direction and mentality
Our government invested early in Artificial Intelligence, pointed out the Deputy Minister of Culture, Christos Dimas, making special reference to the establishment of the Institute of Artificial Intelligence from 2020. As he explained, through the Foundation the benefits of Artificial Intelligence are made available to the Greek scientific community, the business community , in Greek society, while underlining that at the same time many and important actions have been “running”.
Referring to the Ministry of Culture, he informed about a new innovative action that is currently underway. “At the Ministry of Culture we do not only create digital platforms for Culture. We are planning an innovative action related to health. This is the action of cultural prescription, which you will begin to hear more and more.”
As he explained, “through this action, we are trying to help the mentally ill to go more systematically to cultural spaces of the ministry. In some countries where this tactic is applied, it has been scientifically proven that systematic contact with art and culture helps the mentally ill.”
So, the deputy minister pointed out, innovation is not only about technology as such. It also has to do with new policies that we are trying to implement across the government and of course health is one of those priorities. Besides digital technology and artificial intelligence, innovation is also about a change of direction, a change of mindset, better practices.
S. Vultepsi: There is a sociological part that the arrogant electronic progress has not taken into account and this must be solved
The Deputy Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Sofia Voultepsi, referred to issues of culture and acceptance of technology both in the public sector and in the private sector, reducing it to a sociological level.
“We are on the threshold of Artificial Intelligence which is the future, but at the moment we are also looking for common sense so that there is an interconnection. Digital governance cannot evolve and be imposed without the participation of the State itself and its employees”, emphasized Mrs. Vultepsi.
With regard to the Immigration and Asylum sector, he pointed out that, although it has many peculiarities, with the human element being dominant, technology and interoperability, at the European level in fact, is more than necessary, especially in a context with three wars in Europe and high levels of radicalization.
According to what the deputy minister announced, issues such as the transparency and monitoring of the journey and stay of asylum seekers in our country, the issuance of visas and the “matching” of highly qualified and experienced asylum seekers with jobs, but also more practically issues such as mothers’ access to childcare services are at the fore.
“Many times I have heard the phrase “now that everything has become electronic, nothing is moving forward”. There is no greater defamation of digital governance than this phrase,” said Mrs. Vultepsi, particularly annoyed. As he emphatically stated, “there is a sociological part that the arrogant electronic progress has not taken into account, and this must be solved.”
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