The Italian government appointed a former prime minister to head up the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives, prompting anger among many arguing the man’s age of 85 should disqualify him from the role.
“Under this government, we are becoming a country that is unable to take into consideration our young people, a dinosaur-ocracy stuck in an outdated and conservative vision,” MP Emma Pavanelli said in response to Giuliano Amato’s appointment as head of the Artificial Intelligence Algorithms Commission.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was not informed of the appointment, and she said she was “irritated” by the development, according to The Telegraph.
Italy earlier this year blocked ChatGPT’s use in the country amid concerns about user data and site processes, but the decision was later reversed.
Italian outlet Il Tempo asked why Italy appointed the elderly Amato while other nations, such as the United Kingdom, appointed younger, more experienced experts to lead similar initiatives. The outlet claimed Amato’s appointment left “many” people “dumbfounded.”
The Algorithms Commission will carry out fact-finding investigations into the new technology and determine the “positive and negative” implications of its use, particularly on “publication and information.” The commission includes 10 people, including a research director at the Center for Artificial Intelligence, the director of the CNR Institute for Networks and High Performance Computing and university professors and other experts.
Those experts will now have to answer to Amato, whose appointment reportedly happened due to a “communication mix-up,” according to the undersecretary of the presidency of the Technological Innovation Council. He apologized for making the appointment without informing Meloni.
Members of parliament challenged Amato’s credentials with information technology, with the newspaper La Stampa challenging whether Amato knows “what an algorithm is.”
“Will he be able to look it up on Google?” the publication wondered.
“Why not appoint a young person, there are plenty who are capable,” the paper wrote. “That’s easy to answer – because in Italy, we suffer from Albus Dumbledore syndrome.”
That was a reference to the principal of Harry Potter’s school, Hogwarts.
The Telegraph reported that Meloni’s party and opposition party Forza Italia, which nominated Amato for the role, have had “strained” relations after allegations the party was part of creating a scandal for the prime minister revolving around her husband, a presenter at a channel run by conglomerate Mediaset.
The company belonged to former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was also a member of Forza Italia until his death in June.