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Open source is key to Estonia’s vision for artificial intelligence

Published on: 28/02/2020
Last update: 03/03/2020

For the government of Estonia, open source is always a priority, says the country’s Chief Data Officer, Ott Velsberg. “Everything we do, including artificial intelligence, should be open source if there are no reasons not to,” Mr Velsberg told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

Over the coming weeks, Estonia will share three AI solutions on its data repository. All the AI core components that the Estonian government plans to make available will be open source, Mr Velsberg told OSOR.

“It is our strategic aim to create open source tools which all interested parties can use,” Mr Velsberg says. Together with the government’s Chief Information Office and the Chief Technology Officer, the Chief Data Officer wrote #krattAI, a document that outlines how public services should work digitally in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). The three officials predict that citizens will soon use public services via voice-based interaction with virtual assistants.

The vision paper was published on 24 February, the country’s independence day.

Distributed federation

The goal of #krattAI is to make public services radically easier to use and conveniently available, the CIO, CDO and CTO write. There is also a second goal, which is to make sure that any AI-based system interacting with the country’s public services is designed to be interoperable with others.

Ideally, the system could use any virtual assistant, and such interactions should be possible from any computing device, the three government technologists write. #krattAI foresees an interoperable network of both public- and private-sector AI applications (agents, bots, and assistants); from the user’s perspective these would work as a single, united channel for accessing public services. The system would be distributed (federated), instead of centralised as at present, making it more flexible in terms of development and resilient against cyber-threats.

Estonia will this year select a #krattAI pilot project that will try to meet the core technological and business challenges. This will be followed by a proof of concept, and, later this year, a roadmap for extending the use of AI in public services. The country foresees that it will work with the Finnish government on cross-border interoperability. In 2017 Finland began its own AI programme, entitled AurorAI, that is similar in concept to #krattAI.

More information:

#krattAI ‘vision paper’ (PDF)
#krattAI ‘vision paper’ (website)
Artificial Intelligence for Estonia
Report of Estonia’s AI taskforce
Estonia data repository

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