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.

Panuphong J/Shutterstock

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

  • European Union

  • China

  • USA

  • Canada


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 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 SMEs 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
  • Supervising skilled workers and pursuing a national training strategy to promote employee competences, particularly in relation to digital transformation and AI
  • Researching the effects of AI at the workplace in operational experiment 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”)


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


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

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


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


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.

Political aims

The measures to support and utilise artificial intelligence that Donald Trump has set out and announced do not yet constitute a comprehensive strategy.

  • To improve living standards and safeguard well-being
  • To focus on science, medicine, communication and defense

Areas of activity

Supporting AI research

  • Increasing government support for AI research, IT infrastructure, machine learning and autonomous systems
  • Appointing 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)

Using applications in the military and public sector

  • Incorporating AI into the national security and defence strategies
  • Increasing efficiency in public services and initiating pilot projects

International cooperation

  • Deepening cooperation with the UK
  • Supporting additional collaborations


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)

Cornerstones of national AI strategies

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