– Artificial intelligence poses great opportunities in many sectors, and can give a significant boost for value creation, reformation, and the green shift. That should affect the Government’s goals and priorities, also for research and higher education, says Tore Tennøe, Director at the Norwegian Board of Technology.

– The newly appointed Minister of Digitalization quickly announced they were working on a Norwegian strategy for artificial intelligence. We are far behind other countries, but that gives us the opportunity to learn from those at the forefront, he continues.

EU focuses on artificial intelligence

In the new Long-Term Plan for research and higher education, artificial intelligence is primarily mentioned as an example of digitalization. In contrast, the EU Commission wants to increase the funding of artificial intelligence by €1,5 billion by 2020.

It is worth noting that the EU Commission’s focus is long-term, and at least €7 billion will be allocated to the research programs “Horizon Europe” and “Digital Europe Programme in AI” in the long-term budget for 2021-2027. The EU countries, along with Norway and Switzerland, are strongly encouraged to develop their own strategies with investment plans by mid-2019.

– There are clear expectations from the EU to Norway’s long-term initiative on artificial intelligence, and important requirements with regards to building competences if Norwegian research communities wants to be attractive collaborative partners in the future, says Project Manager Hilde Lovett.

Knowledge promotion for AI

– In the coming years, machine learning will become a very important ingredient for most jobs. Far more educational programs should therefore offer an introduction to artificial intelligence and machine learning, like in the University of Bergen now does for their medicine program, says Lovett.

In May 2018, Finland launched a free, online course in artificial intelligence with the goal that one percent of the population completing it the first year. The goal has already been reached, and the Finish Minister of Finance have challenged Sweden to a competition.

– Artificial intelligence will affect our lives and the choices we make, and it is important that as many people as possible understand the most important consequences. Norwegian citizens ought to have access to an equivalent online course in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Lovett recommends.

Missions for Norway

“Missions” refers to ambitious, but concrete projects aiming to solve grand societal challenges. The British government wants to increase survival beyond 5 years for 22 000 more Brits by 2030 by using artificial intelligence to provide an early diagnosis of cancer in lungs, colon, prostate, and ovaries.

– The Long-Term Plan for research and higher education will apply until 2028. The Norwegian Board of Technology claims artificial intelligence and machine learning should be prioritized higher. We recommend focusing on artificial intelligence where Norway has good data and large societal needs, such as health, public services, sustainable energy, and clean oceans, says Tennøe.

Education like a streaming service

According to OECD 850 000 Norwegians will have their work assignments significantly changed due to automatization and artificial intelligence in the coming years, which brings a dramatic need for increased competences. In order to meet these changes, Norway should restructure the higher education of today to a streaming service for continuous improvements in competences by using digital tools and new incentives.

– Through the program SkillsFuture Credit, the government in Singapore gives more than 2000 NOK every year to all citizens in the age group 25-65 earmarked for courses and improving competences, Lovett says.

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