Use of Artificial Intelligence: Comparison between countries

(How much is Croatia lagging behind, and are we going to do something about it?)

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In the last article (https://medium.com/@acomomcilovic/ai-education-system-what-can-we-expect-and-hope-for-in-croatia-e8491aa6716e ) I mentioned that Croatia could engage in following actions:

What needs to be defined and followed by regulations is the following:

a) Comprehensive public policy on AI for sustainable development

b) Ensuring inclusion and equality in AI in education

c) Preparing teachers for AI-powered education and preparing AI to understand education

Some of the potential use cases for the AI in Education systems could be:

1. Personalization — remedial students, advanced students, ESL students and the disabled all need to have the same access to learning. AI systems easily adapt to each student’s individual learning needs and can target students with teaching instructions based on their strengths and weaknesses

2. Course Improvement — Teachers may not always be aware of gaps in their lectures and educational materials that can leave students confused about certain concepts. Artificial intelligence offers a way to solve that problem. (Coursera, a massive open online course provider, is already putting this into practice. When a large number of students are found to submit the wrong answer to a homework assignment, the system alerts the teacher and gives future students a customized message that offers hints to the correct answer.)

3. Trial and Error Learning made easier — Trial and error is a critical part of learning, but for many students, the idea of failing, or even not knowing the answer, is paralyzing. Some simply don’t like being put on the spot in front of their peers or authority figures like a teacher. An intelligent computer system, designed to help students learn, is a much less daunting way to deal with trial and error. Artificial intelligence could offer students a way to experiment and learn in a relatively judgment-free environment, especially when AI tutors can offer solutions for improvement.

But even if we start those processes, where would we be in comparison to the rest of the world? What are other countries already doing and what should we be aware of?

Fortunately, a fear of missing out is spreading around the globe or at least among some countries. Numerous nations have developed AI strategies to advance their capabilities, through investment, incentives, talent development etc. As AI’s importance to the next generation of technology grows, many leaders are worried that they will be left behind and not share in the gains.

Many governments, in cooperation with and under pressure of their private sector, have developed formal AI frameworks to help boost economic and technological growth. These range from the US executive order on AI leadership and China’s “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” to “AI Made in Germany” and the “Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. After concerns that China could take the lead, USA reacted and The White House recently unveiled 10 principles that federal agencies should consider when devising laws and rules for the use of artificial intelligence in the private sector, but stressed that a key concern was limiting regulatory “overreach.

It is no wonder that governments are rushing to foster AI investment, establish education programs, and pursue research and development to support businesses within their borders.

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Even between early adopters, there are differences, and some of countries believe they’re widening a lead over the competition or even leapfrogging ahead — China for example and some countries like Australia say they’re using AI only to catch or keep up with the competition

When assessing the risks and potential benefits some countries’ early adopters feel more “fully prepared” for these AI risks than their counterparts from other countries. In the survey from Deloitte, respondents from Germany and China stated that they have a surplus of confidence, with faith in their preparedness surpassing their level of concerns for the bad outcomes.

But not many countries are early adopters. Many others are more or less falling behind. Croatia like many countries, unfortunately, still has to put a lot of effort into the AI subject, just to catch up with the best ones. But there is very significant difference in the awareness and approach between those countries that are lagging behind. Great example is Finland who embarked on an ambitious challenge to teach the basics of AI to 1% of its population, or 55,000 people. Once it reaches that goal, it plans to go further, increasing the share of the population with AI know-how. The scheme is all part of a greater effort to establish Finland as a leader in applying and using the technology. Latest reports show that the course, originally launched in 2018, has already enrolled more than 220,000 students from more than 110 countries. Finland now aims to teach 1% of all Europeans basic skills in artificial intelligence through a free online course. The course is available in English, Finnish, Swedish and Estonian so far, and Finland will translate it into all official EU languagesin 2020.

Citizens can take an online course that is specifically designed for non–technology experts with no programming experience. In 2019, more than 10,500 people, including at least 4,000 outside of Finland’s borders, had graduated from the course. More than 250 companies have also pledged to train part or all of their workforce.

India also decided to reap the benefits of the AI and plans to become the first country to deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning in the tax assessment process, as their Finance Minister has promised to adopt faceless assessment system from October 2019. But that is not the only area, Indian government has set up a task force with a comprehensive plan to boost the AI sector and leverage the capabilities associated with related- technologies, infrastructure, data usage and research. Again, they are aware that right now India is far from competing globally due to lack of skills and poor infrastructure to support AI technology.

In 2018, as a part of the Digital India program, their Finance Minister announced an investment of 40 million Euro in setting up ‘Centres of Excellence’ that will focus on research, big data analysis, quantum communication and IOT to improve digital literacy in the country. Additional to that following the concept of “Every time, Everywhere Education,” the government has also launched a website with 244 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), covering aspects like AI, data analytics, etc.

Canada, in March 2017 made AI a research priority and pledged to spend CAN$125 million over five years. The University of Toronto and the University of Montreal have become world leaders for research in deep learning machines, and the Canadian government is working to support university graduates skilled in AI development and recruit foreign talent

In Denmark the focus here has been on setting up strong protections to regulate AI. In March of this year, Denmark established an AI ethics board and released the Danish National Strategy for AI focused on protecting self-determination (ensuring machines do not make decisions for us), protecting human dignity and equality. Denmark has stated the next steps are to increase investments and improve knowledge, with a newly created AI science centre at the University of Copenhagen.

Japan has ambitious goals for digitization, and sees AI as a part of a 5th societal transformation, called Society 5.0. The vision for Society 5.0 imagines inclusive and sustainable cities powered by digitization in all aspects of life to solve Japan’s greatest challenges. Society 5.0 is looking to use AI to help an aging population and reduce pollution, in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This vision has received major support from the Japanese public and industry alike.

Japan is also using AI to revitalize its economy, planning $87 million in robotic investments, with the market for internet of things (IoT) poised to hit $6 billion in 2019

In comparison, Croatian Government and Ministries in charge, promised to prepare AI Agenda for our EU Presidency, by the end of November (which was already quite late), then changed it to December, and last responses were that it should be done in January 2020!

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Some initiatives are not surprisingly again coming from the private sector, and enthusiastic individuals, so we now have, recently founded AI association that will start to work in 2020. CRO.AI is non-governmental organization that is connecting many organizations and individuals that are working in the field of artificial intelligence, with some common vision, values and mission how they want to use AI but also what they want to develop and deploy in their own solutions. Good call for that is also the strategic direction that European Union is giving us — for the next Digital Europe program, there is more than 2,5 bln EUR in the artificial intelligence focus area. President of the newly founded CRO.AI is Mislav Malenica, and vice president is Hajdi Cenan.

One of many areas of improvement, often mentioned in the local media is low efficiency of our private sector. Interesting to note as OECD states, that governments can leverage the power of AI to innovate and transform the public sector in order to redefine the ways in which it designs and implements policies and services. As AI technology evolves, administrative and process-driven tasks will be able to be automated, boosting public sector efficiency and freeing up public servants to focus on work that is more meaningful.

Around the world, at least 50 countries (including the European Union) have developed, or are in the process of developing, a national AI strategy. Of these, 37 have (or plan to have) either separate strategies in place for public sector AI, or a dedicated focus embedded within a broader strategy. (you can check latest updates per country here: https://oecd-opsi.org/projects/ai/strategies/)

To conclude:

Some authors are making comparisons with the times when governments funded research and public declarations such as President Kennedy’s bold promise that the US would land on the moon within a decade, propelled scientific achievement forward leading to important milestones in human history. While perhaps less controversial, today’s race to lead the world in artificial intelligence is again prompting national governments to play a major role in science. Government efforts influence the level of support for research and development, and more importantly shape the new AI rules and regulations. Let us all hope that Croatian Government will have enough sensibility and wisdom to take this topic very seriously. Because one thing is sure, Croatian citizens will feel the impact of those decisions very soon.

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Human Resoucres, Psychology, Entrepreneurship, MBA…

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