Finland is well on its way to becoming one of the leading countries in the application of artificial intelligence worldwide. AI offers tremendous potential for improving the competitiveness of Finnish business and industry. However, ushering Finland into the age of artificial intelligence will require actions on a wide front, including new practices, investment, competence, and public discussion.
For the Artificial Intelligence Programme launched in spring 2017, a steering group was set up, consisting of representatives from the private and public sector and research institutes. This steering group was tasked with creating a set of actions that would make Finland an attractive and competitive, AI-driven country; the most relevantly educated nation with well-informed and independent citizens. The programme and its networks identified 11 key actions that will take Finland into the age of artificial intelligence.
Today, the level of utilising AI varies between businesses and sectors: organisations that are advanced in digitalisation are advanced also in AI application. From Finland’s business and industry and the national economy perspective, it is important that businesses tap into the potential offered by artificial intelligence. This is how we can sharpen the competitive edge of Finnish businesses.
Data has become the most valuable resource in the world. Therefore, every effort must be made to ensure effective use of data in all sectors. For instance, in the public sector information can be used to develop better services for citizens, and the MyData approach facilitates the use of personal data.
In terms of understanding the opportunities provided by AI, Finland’s business sector features both frontrunners and latecomers. It is essential to take steps to make the introduction of artificial intelligence faster and easier. The Artificial Intelligence Programme identified methods that allow the dissemination of AI understanding to a larger group of people and lower the threshold to AI adoption. Such methods include an AI accelerator and an artificial intelligence index to serve as a self-assessment tool for companies.
Skilled specialists are the critical resource for AI development and application, and competition for them is fierce. To succeed, we must ensure world-class competence and attract top experts. In terms of artificial intelligence, it is essential not only to ensure the availability of versatile education, but also to invest in new teaching methods. A case in point is the Elements of AI online course organised by the University of Helsinki and Reaktor, which allowed everyone in Finland to study the basics of artificial intelligence.
If we are to be genuine leaders, we must invest in the development, application and introduction of artificial intelligence. This requires bold decisions and investments. It is the task of both the public sector and lawmakers to remove obstacles, and to provide facilities and opportunities for investments and growth.
We will build the world’s best public services that enable a people-oriented, proactive society. In this society, people learn to understand their own wellbeing, and services seek their way to people in a timely, information secured and ethically sustainable manner.
The exploitation of AI requires multivoiced discussion, identification of opportunities and obstacles, and rapid and experimental action. We will establish new models for collaboration for private-public partnerships.
It is our objective to make Finland a trendsetter in the age of artificial intelligence. Finland has already been leading the way in Europe. Now, with Finland holding the Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2019, we will be in a unique position to make digital economy a key theme in EU policy.
Inevitably, artificial intelligence will change the nature of work, which is why new skills will be required in working life. Artificial intelligence can be considered as a support function that will facilitate some aspects of human work.
Finland is well equipped to serve as an environment for experimentation, with the importance of AI ethics high on the agenda. Therefore, we will steer AI development and application into a trust-based, human-centred direction. The key issue is to find a balance between the utilisation of new technologies and ethics. Artificial intelligence is also relevant from the perspective of comprehensive security, so in addition to preparing for opportunities, we will also prepare for security challenges.
Read more about the actions taken in connection with the Artificial Intelligence Programme, the key conclusions of the programme, and resulting recommendations in the “Leading the way into the era of artificial intelligence” report. The report is available here.