Estonia’s tech-savvy population has helped transform the country into an innovation hub, with the tiny Baltic nation hitting above its weight in launching startups. Similarly, Estonia’s geographical location has propelled the government’s approach to technology. Estonia is a leader in cybersecurity, but also blockchain and e-citizenship, a digital-first approach to sovereignty that makes sense when Russia is your neighbor. Now Estonia is working toward a national policy concerning artificial intelligence. CIO Journal’s Sara Castellanos talks with Siim Sikkut, Estonia’s chief information officer, about the effort.
A national AI action plan. “We could just tinker around without having a coordinated, coherent plan,” said Mr. Sikkut. “But if you want to make a concentrated effort and move strong and fast, you need to figure out what to put in motion, (what) barriers to break, and that’s what the plan gives us.” Estonia’s upcoming action plan will address issues such as the extent to which government should use AI without being overly reliant on the technology or intruding on privacy, Mr. Sikkut said.
A small club. The country, with a population of about 1.3 million, will join several others that have developed national strategies to promote the use and development of AI, including China, Finland, Canada, France and Germany. Guidelines for how to deploy AI, and to what extent, will be critical for governments seeking to maximize their relevance in the new global economy, said Keith Strier, EY's global and Americas artificial intelligence leader and the lead partner and senior advisor on the project with Estonia. “Not having a national AI action plan will mean a failure to really coordinated focused resources, which, in a smaller country is more essential because there’s more limited resources.”
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