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An Overview of National AI Strategies

The race to become the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) has officially begun.

No two strategies are alike, with each focusing on different aspects of AI policy: scientific research, talent development, skills and education, public and private sector adoption, ethics and inclusion, standards and regulations, and data and digital infrastructure.

The strategy has four goals: (1) increase the number of AI researchers and graduates, (2) establish three clusters of scientific excellence, (3) develop thought leadership on the economic, ethical, policy, and legal implications of AI, and (4) support the national research community on AI.

Society Program examines the policy and ethical implications of AI, but the overall strategy does not include policies found in other strategies such as investments in strategic sectors, data and privacy, or skills development.

The plan is the most comprehensive of all national AI strategies, with initiatives and goals for R&D, industrialization, talent development, education and skills acquisition, standard setting and regulations, ethical norms, and security.

The plan also lays out the government’s intention to recruit the world’s best AI talent, strengthen the training of the domestic AI labour force, and lead the world in laws, regulations, and ethical norms that promote the development of AI.

Specifically, it advances four major tasks: (1) focus on developing intelligent and networked products such as vehicles, service robots, and identification systems, (2) emphasize the development AI’s support system, including intelligent sensors and neural network chips, (3) encourage the development of intelligent manufacturing, and (4) improve the environment for the development of AI by investing in industry training resources, standard testing, and cybersecurity.

In addition, the government has also partnered with national tech companies to develop research and industrial leadership in specific fields of AI and will build a $2.1 billion technology park for AI research in Beijing.

As per funding, a pool of DKK 75 million has been allocated in 2018, followed by DKK 125 million each year until 2025, and DKK 75 million in perpetuity for the implementation of the strategy’s initiatives.

Major announcements include the creation of Digital Hub Denmark (a public-private cluster for digital technologies), SME:Digital (a coordinated scheme to support the digital transformation of Danish SMEs), and the Technology Pact (a nationwide initiative to foster digital skills).

Key initiatives include a commitment to increase the EU’s investment in AI from €500 million in 2017 to €1.5 billion by the end of 2020, the creation of the European AI Alliance (which people can now join), and a new set of AI ethics guidelines to address issues such as fairness, safety, and transparency.

The goal of the forthcoming plan will be to “maximize the impact of investments at EU and national levels, encourage synergies and cooperation across the EU, exchange best practices and collectively define the way forward to ensure that the EU as a whole can compete globally.” In May 2017, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä appointed a steering group to examine how Finland can become one of the world’s top countries at the application of AI technologies.

Key initiative included the creation of the Finnish Centre for AI (a joint partnership by Aalto and Helsinki Universities to increase AI research, talent, and industry collaboration), an AI accelerator pilot program, and the integration of AI in the public service.

Third, the government will create a regulatory and financial framework to support the development of domestic “AI champions.” Finally, the government will development regulations for ethics to ensure that the use and development of AI is transparent, explainable, and non-discriminatory.

Details for the following have not be released, but €700 million will go towards research, €100 million this year to AI startups and companies, €70 million annually through France’s Public Investment Bank, and $400 million to industrial projects in AI.

The proposed plan is quite comprehensive and also includes measures to attract international talent, respond to the changing nature of work, integrate AI into government services, make public data more accessible, and promote the development of transparent and ethical AI.

Other relevant organizations include the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which promotes academic cooperation and attracts scientific talent to work in Germany, and the Plattform Lernende Systeme, which brings together experts from science, industry, politics, and civic organizations to develop practical recommendations for the government.

It consists of 19 MPs and 19 AI experts and is tasked with developing a report with recommendations by 2020 (a similar task force released a report on the ethics of autonomous vehicles in June 2017).

NITI Aayog provides over 30 policy recommendations to invest in scientific research, encourage reskilling and training, accelerate the adoption of AI across the value chain, and promote ethics, privacy, and security in AI.

The report also recommends setting up a consortium of Ethics Councils at each CORE and ICTAI, developing sector specific guidelines on privacy, security, and ethics, creating a National AI Marketplace to increase market discovery and reduce time and cost of collecting data, and a number of initiatives to help the overall workforce acquire skills.

Unlike other strategies, which focus on research and development or private sector uptake, the white paper exclusively focuses on how the government can facilitate the adoption of AI technologies in the public administration.

CINI-AIIS Lab (Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Lab) aims to strengthen Italy’s basic and applied research in AI, support the country’s ICT industry by promoting technology transfer from research to entrepreneurship, and promote the adoption of AI solutions in the public administration.

Based on instructions from Prime Minister Abe during the Public-Private Dialogue towards Investment for the Future in April 2016, the Strategic Council for AI Technology was established to develop “research and development goals and a roadmap for the industrialization of artificial intelligence.” The 11-member council had representatives from academia, industry, and government, including the President of Japan’s Society for the Promotion of Science, the President of the University of Tokyo, and the Chairman of Toyota.

The strategy is notable for its Industrialization Roadmap, which envisions AI as a service and organizes the development of AI into three phases: (1) the utilization and application of data-driven AI developed in various domains, (2) the public use of AI and data developed across various domains, and (3) the creation of ecosystems built by connecting multiplying domains.

The task force will also provide milestones for 2027 and 2032 and situate the strategy in the areas of financial inclusion, cybersecurity, land tilting, election process, single digital identity, and overall public service delivery.

Based on evidence from over 60 interviews with local AI experts, the report concludes with a set of recommendations grouped into five categories: (1) government and public services, (2) data and digital infrastructure, (3) research and development, (4) capacity, skills and education, and (5) ethics.

In May 2018, the organization released a report titled, “Artificial Intelligence: Shaping a Future New Zealand.” The report surveys the global AI landscape, examines the potential impact of AI on New Zealand’s economy and society, and concludes with a set of recommendations for policymakers.

With the goal of “fostering an environment where AI delivers inclusive benefits for the entire country,” the organization recommends that the government should focus on: (1) developing a coordinated national AI strategy, (2) creating awareness and understanding of AI in the public, (3) assisting the public and private sectors adopt AI technologies, (4) increasing access to trusted data, (5) growing the local AI talent pool, and (6) examining how AI affects laws and ethics.

The countries agreed to collaborate in order to “develop and promote the use of artificial intelligence to serve humans.” They specified that they will collaborate on: (1) improving opportunities for skills development, (2) enhancing access to data, (3) developing ethical and transparent guidelines, standards, principles, and values, (4) developing standards for hardware and software that enable privacy, security, and trust, (5) ensuring AI gets a prominent role in European discussions of the Digital Single Market, (6) avoiding unnecessary regulations, and (7) using the Nordic Council of Ministries to facilitate policy cooperation.

It is unclear when the government will release its strategy, but Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin stressed that is government is aware of the need to create a strategy and that Poland’s plan will include AI solutions for the future of health care, public administration, education and cybersecurity.

That’s why, if we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with the entire world.” Putting aside whether or not Russia would actually share its AI technology with the world, this part of the quote is a crucial omission of Russia’s AI capabilities.

As Samuel Bendett reports for Defense One, “Russia’s annual domestic investment in AI is probably around 700 million rubles ($12.5 million) — a paltry sum next to the billions being spent by American and Chinese companies.” In March 2018, Russia’s Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Russian Academy of Sciences hosted a conference titled, “Artificial Intelligence: Problems and Solutions — 2018.” As a result of the conference, the Ministry of Defence released a list of 10 policies that the conference recommended.

Key recommendations include creating a state system for AI education and talent retainment, establishing a national center for AI, and hosting war games to study the impact of AI on military operations.

First, to secure AI talent, the government will establish six graduate school in AI by 2022 with the goal of training 5,000 AI specialists (1,400 AI researchers and 3,600 data management specialists).

To do this, the strategy argues that Sweden needs to train more skilled AI-professionals, increase basic and applied research in AI, and develop a legal framework to ensure the development of sustainable AI (AI applications that are ethical, safe, reliable, and transparent).

As part of the Executive Yuan’s larger strategy to use Taiwan’s information technology and semiconductor industries to develop new smart technologies, the AI Action Plan, which has an annual budget of NT$10 billion over four years, has five key initiatives.

It is quite comprehensive, with policies to boost public and private R&D, invest in STEM education, improve digital infrastructure, develop AI talent, and lead the global conversation on data ethics.

The report outlines a number of recommendations for the government to consider, including calls to review the potential monopolization of data by technology companies, incentivize the development of new approaches to the auditing of datasets, and create a growth fund for UK SMEs working with AI.

Its companion report, National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, outlined a strategic plan for publicly funded R&D in AI, while the final report, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy, examined in further detail the impact of automation and what policies are needed to increase the benefits of AI and mitigate its costs.

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