Political strategies for Artificial Intelligence

What steps are politicians taking in the face of the disruptive changes heralded by artificial intelligence? An overview of the AI strategies of selected countries.

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Cornerstones of political AI strategies

Over the next few years, Artificial Intelligence will change business and daily life worldwide. To shape the associated political and social developments and challenges, a number of governments have produced political AI strategies in which they set out their goals and key areas of activity. The following is an overview of the main content of the strategies that selected countries are pursuing.

  • Key areas for political IT strategies at a glance
  • Germany

  • France

  • United Kingdom

  • Finland

  • Belgium

  • European Union

  • China

  • USA

  • Canada

  • Japan

  • Singapore

Germany

In November 2018, the German Federal Government announced its national Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. The goal is to establish “AI made in Germany” as an international trademark for cutting-edge, secure AI applications aimed at serving the common good in line with Europe’s core values. From now until 2025, the Federal Government will allocate some three billion euros to pursuing this strategy. Plattform Lernende Systeme will support the roll-out of this AI strategy and expand to become a platform for Artificial Intelligence in order to achieve this.

Political aims

Starting out from a strong position in terms of research, Germany is to become a leading country for the study, development and application of Artificial Intelligence.

  • Achieve technology leadership and “AI made in Germany” as a seal of quality
  • Develop and use AI responsibly
  • Promote dialogue throughout society sector

Areas of activity

Expanding AI research

  • Developing a national network of at least twelve centres and application hubs
  • Establishing a minimum of 100 additional AI professorships and strengthening the teaching and promotion of young talent in the field of AI
  • Using attractive working conditions and remuneration to draw in and retain the brightest minds
  • Developing a Franco-German research and innovation network (“virtual centre”)


Knowledge transfer, application and entrepreneurship

  • Speeding up progress from research to concrete AI applications using test fields, living labs, model trials, regional clusters and cutting-edge forms of support
  • Improving ways for companies to access AI technologies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises via “SME 4.0 Competence Centres”
  • Promoting the growth of AI start-ups by way of support programmes (e.g. EXIST) and venture capital
  • Drawing up an AI map of applications and stakeholders – monitoring AI and networking companies and institutions
  • Founding an agency for radical innovation with AI as a major focus
  • Setting up a European AI innovation cluster and holding innovation competitions


International and public dialogue

  • European and transatlantic dialogue on human-centric use of AI in working environments
  • Dialogue throughout society on how to shape AI ethically, legally, culturally and institutionally – Germany’s Platform for Artificial Intelligence will play a key role in this process

Changes to the world of work

  • Adopting a comprehensive and humane approach based on the autonomous development of abilities and talents, social security and workers’ health
  • Forming regional competence centres for studying and organising labour
  • Monitoring specialist workers and pursuing a national training strategy to boost employees’ skills, particularly in relation to digital transformation and AI
  • Researching the effects of AI at the workplace in experimental operational environments and involving works councils at an early stage of introducing AI applications
  • Training HR officers, staff councils and works councils (e.g. in future centres)


Data usage, data security, law and ethics

  • Promoting research into monitoring algorithmic forecasting and decision-making systems and making them transparent
  • Advocating research and applications in relation to consumer protection and privacy
  • Making data available, e.g. through potential data partnerships between companies and research institutes and by establishing incentives and framework conditions for voluntary data sharing (including from publicly financed research projects) in compliance with data protection regulations
  • Modifying competition and copyright law to increase the volume of usable data without disclosing personal data or proprietary know-how (“Competition Law 4.0 Commission”)

France

In March 2018, President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech in which he set out the fundamentals of a French AI strategy entitled AI for Humanity. A report published by French member of parliament Cédric Villani in March forms an important basis for this strategy.

Political aims

France emphasises that Artificial Intelligence must work for the benefit of people and gives the state an important controlling function. State funding amounting to 1.5 billion euros up to 2022 has been earmarked for expanding research into AI and for its use.

  • To establish an open data policy for the implementation of AI applications
  • To focus on four sectors: Health, environment, mobility, security/defence
  • To promote European cooperation on AI

Areas of activity

AI ecosystem for France and Europe

  • Establishing a national office of coordination (under the direction of INRIA) to network French AI expertise
  • Founding four to five AI groupings with partners from science and business (e.g. PRAIRIE)
  • Expanding AI research and recruiting international researchers


Open data

  • Providing public data for publicly supported projects
  • Establishing shared data platforms for the public and private sector
  • Opening the database at European level
  • Stimulating the public debate on the handling of data

Legal and ethical issues

  • Modifying the legal framework for the development of AI (e.g. for autonomous driving by 2022, conducting regional experiments with exemption rules beforehand)
  • Dialogue about ethical issues at European and international level (primarily Canada) with the aim of creating an organisation like the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) for AI
  • Transparency of algorithms
  • Ethical code for programmers

United Kingdom

In November 2017, the UK government published an initial strategy paper that defined Artificial Intelligence as a building block for economic and industrial growth. In March 2018, a House of Lords Select Committee presented a report on the economic, ethical and social consequences of AI. In April 2018, a UK AI strategy appeared in the form of the AI Sector Deal.

Political aims

The government wants to make the UK the world’s most innovative economy through digitalisation. The aim is that Artificial Intelligence should deliver excellent workplaces and a higher standard of living for all.

  • To establish the UK as an attractive high-tech location for start-ups and entrepreneurs
  • To expand the digital infrastructure
  • To promote and support AI-related collaborations

Areas of activity

Investment-friendly environment

  • Increasing government funding for research and development
  • Offering tax incentives for AI research and development


Basic and further training in AI

  • Investing in the teaching of STEM subjects and in digital education
  • Training all sections of the population in AI, particularly in economically underdeveloped regions

Investment in digital infrastructure

  • Expanding digital mobility concepts and supporting electromobility and digitally supported charging
  • Promoting the construction of smart homes
  • Investing in state-of-the-art broadband expansion


Economic development

  • Supporting partnerships between the state and industry, primarily in the sectors of health, mechanical engineering and automotive
  • Establishing an investment fund for British business supported by the British Business Bank
  • Evaluating all political measures to improve business innovation

Finland

In December 2017, the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment published a national AI strategy entitled Finland’s Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Political aims

The government’s goal is to position Finland as a leading nation when it comes to AI applications. It aims to pave the way for achieving this in both business and the public sector by working openly with data.

  • To strengthen the export and service-focused Finnish economy through AI-based services and business models
  • To focus on four sectors: Energy, medicine, mobility, industry
  • To modernise the public sector with better services for citizens

Areas of activity

Entrepreneurial ecosystems for AI applications

  • Establishing accelerators close to the research sector that give companies the opportunity to test applications
  • Offering open pilot and test environments for start-ups, SMEs and foreign companies
  • Dismantling barriers for companies – easy access to AI applications and programming courses (e.g. MOOC at the University of Helsinki)


Legal framework for using data

  • Prioritising the provision of data needed for new business models (not: data protection)
  • Encouraging companies to share data pools efficiently
  • Giving citizens access to personal data that has been gathered publicly
  • Expanding the legal framework at European level

AI expertise as a locational factor

  • Establishing an internationally renowned Centre of Excellence for AI
  • Ensuring all citizens have a basic understanding of AI applications
  • Incorporating AI into application-oriented study courses and into vocational training
  • Positioning Finland as a location with an ideal public-sector framework for AI research and development


Public sector as an AI pioneer

  • Incorporating AI into all public services
  • Employing a team of top AI experts to develop applications
  • Extending cooperation between the public and private sector

Belgium

The AI 4 Belgium Coalition was established in March 2019 at the instigation of Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Digital Agenda. This consortium of experts is working towards creating a national initiative for issuing recommendations for action on Artificial Intelligence. The group has published a catalogue of measures calling for action to promote education, talent, data and institutions, and recommends investing at least one billion euros in AI between now and 2030.

Political goals

  • Standardising and pooling existing AI initiatives and strategies in the regions of Flanders, Walloon and Brussels
  • Using AI to prevent diseases, reduce energy consumption, boost purchasing power and improve traffic management
  • Investing up to 30 billion euros in general digital transformation
  • Investing 30 million euros via the region of Flanders in research into AI, its implementation in businesses, and education and ethics

Areas of action

Educational concept

  • Boosting awareness of evolving fields of work and requirements profiles
  • Improving further vocational training opportunities for citizens and developing new training programmes
  • Obliging employers to offer staff opportunities for lifelong learning, involving universities
  • Focusing on programming, algorithmic thinking and soft skills in schools


Responsible data strategy

  • Involving civil society in the ethical debate about Artificial Intelligence and raising politicians’ awareness
  • Creating a Belgian Ethics Committee to support businesses and state institutions in ethical aspects of Artificial Intelligence
  • Establishing an independent Belgian data sharing platform and making existing data platforms more transparent

Demystifying and disseminating Artificial Intelligence

  • Developing a massive open online course (MOOC) to train at least one percent of the Belgian population
  • Public information programme to communicate the positive aspects of AI for society
  • Establishing a certified European Digital Innovation Hub throughout Belgium
  • Funding for small and medium-sized enterprises to assist trials of AI


Developing, attracting and anchoring talent

  • Setting up sandboxes as virtual test areas for software and positioning Belgium as a European laboratory for AI research
  • Setting up bachelor’s and master’s degree courses in Artificial Intelligence
  • Easing immigration requirements for highly skilled foreign AI specialists
  • Developing public-private partnerships to offer practical training to students


Self-perception of state institutions

  • Transforming public institutions into platforms as part of an ecosystem
  • Overhauling state tendering processes to enable innovative concepts
  • Appointing a Chief Digital Officer to coordinate nationwide efforts involving AI

European Union

In April 2018, the European Commission published its agenda for promoting artificial intelligence in Europe. A European AI strategy slated for publication at the end of 2018 is currently being developed with the assistance of the High Level Expert Group on AI, a network of leading European AI experts, and the European AI Alliance.

Political aims

Over the next few years, the EU will be introducing broad-based investment programmes to expand Europe’s technological and industrial strengths in Artificial Intelligence. Additional focal points are socio-economic changes and legal framework conditions.

  • To run programmes for public and private investment in Artificial Intelligence amounting to 20 billion euros (by 2020)
  • To adapt the education system to changed conditions in the world of work
  • To develop ethical guidelines for AI that are based on European data protection principles

Areas of activity

Public and private investment

  • Boosting the EU Commission’s “Horizon 2020” research and innovation programme
  • Investing in various AI technologies and fields of application (e.g. big data, robotics, mobility, health)
  • Networking of AI research centres across Europe
  • Developing a platform for “AI on demand” that gives European users access to relevant AI resources
  • Using the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) for the targeted financing of companies and start-ups
  • Providing open data, making it easier to exchange data and developing a suitable legal framework

Preparing citizens for socio-economic changes caused by AI

  • Modifying education and training systems
  • Supporting changes on the labour market with specific training programmes funded by the European Social Fund
  • Expanding education in STEM subjects (core skills for AI) and supporting entrepreneurship and creativity


Ethical and legal framework

  • Establishing ethical guidelines for the development of AI (based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU), including close cooperation in the “European AI Alliance”
  • Focusing on the principles of European data protection and product liability regulations

China

In July 2017, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology presented a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence under the title A Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan. The long-term goal of being a global leader in AI innovation by 2030 is laid out in a three-year plan published in December 2017.

Political aims

The Chinese government regards Artificial Intelligence as a key industry for the future. It is pooling strengths and using a comprehensive roadmap to pursue clear economic policy objectives.

  • By 2020: To catch up with the USA in the field of Artificial Intelligence
  • By 2025: To achieve bigger breakthroughs and take on a leading role in relation to specific AI applications
  • By 2030: To lead the world in research, development and application of AI. For the national AI industry (target market value of 130 billion euros) to make a major contribution to added value in the country.

Areas of activity

Open and collaborative innovation system for AI

  • Pooling all resources from politics, research and business to establish innovation and research centres and data pools
  • Developing AI-based models, methods and software solutions for specific applications
  • Focusing research on Big Data, networked and swarm intelligence, and hybrid and autonomous systems
  • Supporting interdisciplinary research


Applications for a highly efficient smart economy

  • Developing and distributing AI applications in key industries (e.g. medicine, smart city, agriculture, security, military and manufacturing industry)
  • Forcing breakthroughs in networked mobility, service robotics, medical diagnostics, voice recognition, translation and smart home
  • Integrating AI technologies into industrial applications (e.g. CNC, industrial robots)
  • Supporting development environments and open source platforms

Know-how and talent

  • Establishing training centres for basic and further training
  • Recruiting the best AI researchers in the world
  • Providing an AI knowledge base and training courses to ensure expertise can be rapidly transferred to industrial use


Supportive framework conditions

  • Establishing standards for AI applications
  • Expanding the network infrastructure
  • Developing ethical, political and regulatory guidelines for handling AI

USA

Back in October 2016, the Obama administration published a comprehensive strategy paper on handling Artificial Intelligence under the title Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence. The fact sheet AI for the American People, published in May 2018, summarises the current guidelines and measures of the Trump administration. The Summary of the 2018 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Strategy produced by the U.S. Department of Defense outlines its new goals and approaches for using Artificial Intelligence primarily for military purposes.

Political aims

The measures for promoting and utilising Artificial Intelligence that the Federal Government of the United States has set out and announced focus on the following key objectives:

  • To improve living standards and safeguard well-being
  • To focus on applications in the fields of science, medicine, communications and the military
  • To assist and protect U.S. soldiers, civilians and the American nation
  • To improve the efficiency of public services

Areas of activity

Promoting AI research

  • Increasing government support for AI research, IT infrastructure, machine learning and autonomous systems
  • The government is to appoint agencies to monitor current technological developments in these areas


Breaking down barriers to investment

  • Easing regulations for the use of AI (e.g. automated driving, use of drones, medical diagnosis)


Military ethics and AI security

  • Ensuring responsibility and ethics in Artificial Intelligence
  • Protecting AI against hackers and manipulation
  • Supporting transparency in AI research and drawing up military guidelines for handling AI

Strengthening the armed forces

  • Improving how situations are evaluated and decision-making
  • Intelligent predictive maintenance and provision


International cooperation

  • Science and Technology Agreement with the UK
  • Global partnerships

Canada

In 2017, the Canadian government published the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which is being coordinated by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). The government is providing around 108 million euros for the strategy up to 2022.

Political aims

The following goals were highlighted when the strategy was announced as part of the budget plan for 2017:

  • To establish a national AI research network
  • To be opinion leader in the global debate regarding the economic, political, ethical and legal consequences of artificial intelligence
  • To transfer AI research to public and private-sector applications that deliver socio-economic benefits for Canada

Areas of activity

Expanding research

  • Establishing three new research centres focusing on deep learning and reinforcement learning research: Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII), Vector Institute and Mila
  • Setting up new AI professorships at universities
  • Supporting, attracting and retaining AI researchers


Networking and transfer

  • Expanding the new research centres to become central hubs for a national research network
  • Supporting meetings, collaborations and summer and winter schools

Social discussion

  • Establishing working groups to examine the economic, political and social consequences of AI
  • Initiating an international and interdisciplinary network of experts on ethical and inclusive AI (in partnership with the French government)

Japan

The Strategic Council for AI Technology was founded in April 2016 to promote Artificial Intelligence in Japan. The organisation published an Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy in March 2017. The goals and measures contained therein support the vision of a super-smart “Society 5.0”, as pursued by Prime Minister Shinzō Abes for several years with a package of policies (“Abenomics”). Other AI-related strategy papers produced in Japan include its Industrialization Roadmap, Integrated Innovation Strategy and New Robot Strategy.

Political goals

The Japanese approach to Artificial Intelligence focuses on the potential for social development:

  • Boosting social productivity and the creativity of its citizens
  • Using big data to spearhead medical care and welfare technology
  • Improving travel for its citizens, taking better care of the environment, and eradicating all accidents by 2030
  • Creating robust economic development of Artificial Intelligence coupled with appropriate evaluation criteria and awards

Areas of action

Research and development (R&D)

  • Trebling business investment in universities and R&D institutes by 2027
  • Promoting skilled workers, particularly high-level industrial-scientific collaboration
  • Creating a working and scientific environment that provides incentives for AI experts
  • Boosting energy efficiency and reducing the spatial dimensions of supercomputers


Data management

  • Capturing the information required to create an effective data environment and integrating input/output devices (e.g. sensors)
  • Creating incentives for companies to provide data
  • Increasing data compatibility by means of standard profiles and standardised data formats

Productivity

  • Highly customising mass production by automating and optimising production systems
  • Improving the service sector
  • Supporting start-ups through “open innovation”


Health, medical care and welfare

  • Preventing diseases and increasing life expectancy with AI-based preventive medicine
  • Reducing social expenditure
  • Combating the issues caused by a shrinking workforce


Mobility

  • Increasing the freedom, environmental credentials and safety of travel
  • Establishing AI-based sharing services for people and goods

Singapore

In 2017, the Singapore government launched a national initiative via the National Research Foundation (NRF) called AI Singapore to promote Artificial Intelligence. A budget of 130 million euros is being injected into this five-year project to implement various measures aimed at training AI specialists and assisting businesses. A tool called Smart Nation had previously been established in November 2014 for steering and developing technological innovations in urban areas.

Political goals

Singapore is pursuing holistic goals with its national AI initiatives:

  • Expanding national expertise in the field of Artificial Intelligence in the name of social and economic progress
  • Supporting AI experts and creating an AI-assisted economic system
  • Promoting industry-focused research into smart city applications (relating to life, transport, health, etc.)

Areas of action

Grand Challenges

  • Encouraging interdisciplinary teams to solve AI-specific challenges in the areas of health, smart cities and finance

100Experiments

  • Financial, individual and organisational support for industry to address specific problems and for establishing teams of experts

AI Apprenticeship Programme

  • Fostering local talent by means of courses, training in real-life industrial applications, and AI-related bursaries

AI For Industry

  • Teaching practical AI basics in the programming language Python – supported by face-to-face workshops and online training – to engineers, software developers and managers

AI For Everyone

  • Training and teaching basic AI methods (e.g. machine learning, deep learning) and their business applications

Focal points of other initiatives

  • Support for small and medium-sized enterprises in using digital technologies
  • Facilitating partnerships between local businesses and manufacturers of AI applications

Cornerstones of national AI strategies

Different countries set different priorities for their national AI strategies. Here is an overview: