The newly formed Italian government under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has named 85-year-old constitutional lawyer Giuliano Amato to head a new commission on artificial intelligence in publishing.
According to a report by Wired Italy, the commission nicknamed the “algorithms commission,” will evaluate the risks and opportunities of applying AI in the news and publishing industries.
The choice of Amato, whose long political career includes stints as deputy, minister, prime minister, and recently president of the Constitutional Court, has raised some eyebrows. Particularly given that he just made headlines blocking referendum efforts on cannabis and end-of-life choices — not faring well for expectations of progressive policies when faced with new technologies and rapid change.
The appointment was made by Alfredo Barachini, undersecretary to Meloni, for publishing and information. It seems an unconventional pick compared to other countries like the UK, which named 41-year-old tech entrepreneur and machine learning expert Ian Hogarth to lead a similar commission.
Some have questioned whether Amato’s advanced age makes him out of touch for evaluating emerging technologies like AI. However, the more substantial concern should be whether he has relevant expertise. Age alone is a weak criticism — technology transcends generations, and many pioneers of computing were active into their later years.
The commission explores complex issues of tech and regulation and media
What matters more is direct experience with AI, algorithms, and modern publishing. On that front, Amato’s background as a legal scholar and politician raises doubts. The commission will explore complex issues at the intersection of technology, media, and regulation. Solid technical knowledge seems crucial.
The choice also reportedly surprised some in Meloni’s right-wing coalition, unused to politically left figures being handed government posts. The move could raise tensions between her Brothers of Italy party and allies like Forza Italia.
Ultimately, Amato’s qualifications to lead this commission remain uncertain. But rather than vague concerns over age, critics should focus on his rather alarming lack of direct experience with artificial intelligence or modern publishing.
In a rapidly changing digital media environment, merely being an eminent legal authority may not suffice. The government would be wise to appoint supporting members with more relevant technological and industry expertise.
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