News  |  ,   |  February 15, 2019

Inside Finland’s plan to become an artificial intelligence powerhouse

News article by Chris Baraniuk.
Pulished in Wired UK.


The small Nordic country is betting on education to give it a decisive edge in the age of AI.

Finland knows it doesn’t have the resources to compete with China or the United States for artificial intelligence supremacy, so it’s trying to outsmart them. “People are comparing this to electricity – it touches every single sector of human life,” says Nokia chairman Risto Siilasmaa. From its foundations as a pulp mill 153 years ago, Nokia is now one of the companies helping to drive a very quiet, very Finnish AI revolution.

Last May, the small Nordic country announced the launch of Elements of AI, a first-of-its-kind online course that forms part of an ambitious plan to turn Finland into an AI powerhouse. To date, more than 130,000 people have signed up for the course. “It’s a pretty unique thing in Finland,” says Siilasmaa, who had an advisory role in the development of the online course. But it isn’t just Finns who are benefitting from the grand AI plan.

A few months after the course launched, developer Teemu Roos found himself chatting online to a Nigerian plumber who wanted to learn more about artificial intelligence. It was then that Roos, and his colleagues at the University of Helsinki who helped develop Elements of AI, knew their work could have a massive impact – not just in Finland, but across the world. [ . . . ]