How Finland plans to teach artificial intelligence to the population to stay competitive

Worried about issues such as the future of the labor market and competitiveness between economies, Finland has adopted an ambitious goal: to teach artificial intelligence (AI) concepts to 1% of its population - and to keep popularizing thereafter.

The goal came amid a project by the University of Helsinki in the country's capital. In order to instruct people who do not understand anything about computer science, the institution has launched a free online course on basic AI concepts and applications.

The project has gained the attention of large companies and, finally, the Finnish government itself. In addition to embracing the training target, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country's tax authority announced that they would train their own teams in this area.

The measure integrates Finland's broader strategy around the potentials of artificial intelligence. Instead of entering into a losing battle against big powers in technology, such as China and the US, the country decided to focus on a different niche, focusing on the practical applications of AI - not its actual programming. For this, one of the key measures is to "wake" people about the potential that this technology puts in their hands, as well as to provide basic and essential information to them.

"We will never have so much money that we will be leaders in artificial intelligence, but the way we use it is something different," says Mika Lintilä, the country's economy minister, in an interview with Politico. Even before the measure, according to the text, Finland had already been the first country in the European Union to put IA strategies and objectives on paper. The nation also plans to partner with Estonia and Sweden to become Europe's number one "laboratory" for AI testing.

"Old churches used to have a person who would wake everyone who was falling asleep while listening to the preacher," Ilona Lundström, director general of the Finnish ministry of economy, told the site. "Our role is to have a staff to nudge people and say, 'Be alert, stay awake, stay focused and move forward.'"

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