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Trust highlighted in the French-Finnish initiative on artificial intelligence

Mika Lintilä Published Date 30.8.2018 16.15 Blog

Artificial intelligence (AI) and digitalisation generate growth, competitiveness and innovation and through these prosperity in Europe. It is not only technologies that are transforming, our society is changing too, and these changes must be fair and based on trust. These are some of the issues highlighted in a new French-Finnish cooperation initiative, detailed in a Joint Statement for Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and President Emmanuel Macron agreed on the initiative to deepen cooperation between Finland and France in the area of AI. Our countries share a clear vision of AI: it is one of the most important success factors in the future. Key areas of cooperation will be digital renewal of industry, healthcare, future mobility and start-up ecosystems. The next step is to adopt concrete measures.

The new initiative shows that Finnish AI expertise is highly regarded in Europe. Our message is heard, and we have the opportunity to influence the European debate. Finland has expertise and experience in the areas of cooperation identified in the initiative, and others want to learn from us.

For example, business ecosystems have emerged in Finland where different kinds of organisations work together to find ways to deploy AI. CleverHealth Network is one example. It is a network that brings together Finnish health technology businesses, top healthcare experts and the quality health data produced by the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.

Finland’s AI strategy emphasises that Finland can become a leader in the application of AI only if the public and private sectors work closely together. This also applies to ethics, which is emerging as one of the key strengths and assets in Europe. Trust in AI is the foundation for development and success. The French-Finnish initiative, too, says that it is essential that citizens and businesses can trust AI-based systems. Otherwise, it will be difficult to ensure confidence and acceptability of artificial intelligence in society.

It pleases me that ethics has such a prominent role in the initiative for cooperation on artificial intelligence. We must find answers to ethical issues to unlock the full potential of AI in terms of growth and competitiveness in Europe Who is responsible for the decisions made by AI? What kind of data is used to train AI? In Finland, ethical issues are also discussed in a forthcoming Government Report on information policy, which will be sent out for comments soon. The EU, too, is currently working on ethical guidelines on AI.

In September, Finland’s Artificial Intelligence Programme will launch a campaign, where it challenges enterprises to commit to the ethical use of AI. Enterprises can join the campaign by drafting their own ethical principles for AI, outlining how to apply AI in ethical and responsible ways. It is one of the goals of the French-Finnish initiative to share information about similar best practices to make them available across Europe.

There is a call for the kind of cooperation detailed in the new French-Finnish initiative. The discussion will continue during the Ministerial Conference AI Forum 2018, which is organised in Finland by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the European Commission. The AI Forum will be a great opportunity for European ministers, EU Commissioners, business leaders and AI experts to meet and discuss European economy and society in the age of AI.

Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs

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