Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Margus Tsahkna announced the investment at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Weekend.
“By the end of this year, open source, reusable AI solution building blocks will be developed and made available as digital public goods with a total budget of 20 million euros” Minister Tsahkna said. The announcement aligns with the Estonian artificial intelligence strategy 2022-2023 and recent projects. However, the exact funding steered towards open source AI development during the period has previously been undefined.
The AI strategy, named Kratt after a treasure-bearer from Estonian folklore, outlines the goal of developing reusable AI and machine learning components to ease public and private sector implementation and further development. According to the plan, the action is meant to be driven by public organisations. The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications AI task force is currently working on a strategy for 2024-2026.
The event was held in New York, prior to the United Nations SDG Summit, which is meant to drive the UN’s sustainable development goals. Minister Tshakna’s announcement was part of a session driving funding for digital public infrastructures. During his speech, he also emphasised the Estonian commitment to international initiatives, such as GovStack. GovStack, an initiative by the German and Estonian governments along with ITU, Digital Public Goods Alliance and Digital Impact Alliance, aims to accelerate the uptake of open source in governments.
Estonia is not the only European country counting on open source as an enabler of European AI development. Earlier this year, France announced a €40 million investment to open source AI, hoping to facilitate competition against the emerging US artificial intelligence companies.
While financing is picking up speed, the open source community has raised the question of what it means for an AI system to be “open source”. The definition usually applies to software, but the software component of an AI system is very small compared to the data component. As OSOR reported earlier this month, the overseer of open source definition, Open Source Initiative (OSI), is already taking action to tackle the issue in a series of webinars and workshops.
More information about Artificial Intelligence. Open Source Solutions.
The country approved its second national AI strategy aka Kratt strategy for 2022-2023 with the aim to invest 20M euros.
The national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy relies on four pillars: :
- boosting AI in the government,
- AI in economy,
- skills along with research and development, and
- the legal environment.
As part of the national AI plan, Estonia is bringing a government-as-platform approach to boost uptake of AI in both the public sector and wider economy.
Planned activities include, for example, a public e-course to raise awareness about AI, along with creating sandboxes for testing public sector AI applications. The private sector will have the opportunity to use designated innovation and development grants for developing machine learning based solutions.
Facts and figures
- Estonia has implemented more than 80 AI use cases in government by August 2022.
- The country approved its second national AI strategy aka Kratt strategy for 2022-2023 with the aim to invest 20M euros.
- In Estonian mythology, a Kratt is a magical creature. Essentially, Kratt was a servant built from hay or old household items. Therefore, the Estonian government uses this character as a metaphor for AI and its complexities.