Estonia accelerates artificial intelligence development

artificial intelligence

Article content

A team of Estonian artificial intelligence experts have put together a report outlining valuable advice and activities on how to accelerate applying AI in private and public sectors. Research shows that AI as a technology can have a considerable effect on economies by creating new value. While it is clear that machines will not become sentient anytime soon, it is important to start addressing the power and potential of AI early on.

For Estonia to stand out and to achieve a competitive edge in the AI race, the team of experts created the so-called “Kratt report” – named after a mythical Estonian creature that is devoted to serving its master, but can become bad if left idle…

According to Siim Sikkut, the government CIO and expert team lead, the report outlines ways to harness the technology. Especially in service of raising productivity in a society with an aging population.

The report will be presented to the government in June.

How do we define artificial intelligence?

According to the definition used in the EU, artificial intelligence is described as systems that exhibit intelligent behaviour, that analyse their surrounding environments and make autonomous decisions to a certain extent to achieve goals.

The Estonian definition of “Kratt” stands for a practical application that uses artificial intelligence and that fulfils a specific function. While classical software solutions are programs that fill orders given to them by the programmer, AI algorithms don’t have a predefined program logic and “Kratt” must come to the right conclusion through machine learning.

How Estonia plans to accelerate AI

The public sector should take a trailblazing role in pushing the development of AI as a whole in Estonia. This direction is aligned with the wider e-state and information society development goals, like service quality and better governance solutions (including seamless proactive services). This means that steps need to be taken towards the accessibility and quality of data, launching pilots and ensuring the longevity of these projects. However, it’s not reasonable to pick and choose certain public sector services to be developed as a priority. Instead, a wider approach should be adopted, so that many projects in different areas would be kicked off.

Applying AI in businesses needs more general awareness and also research, development and innovation. Research-dense and high risk projects should be supported, especially as pilots. The report also shows, that companies need a better general level of digitisation.

The main conclusion of the legal analysis, however, is that there is no need for changes in the foundation of the legal system and there is no need for a unified AI law. However, some changes should be made to laws applicable today and appropriate suggestions have been made in the report.

Suggestions to accelerate “Kratt”:

• Open source base components and other “tools”
• Data science and AI collaboration network within the public sector
• Guidelines on how to manage AI projects (including sustainable development)
• Knowledge transfer and experience exchange about projects and possibilities across different networks and in different formats
• For the sustainable development of Estonian language and culture it is important to use natural language processing
• New positions of Chief Data Officers at least on Ministerial levels
• Flexibility in funding e-state developments, so that there would be enough resources for developing and testing “Kratt” applications
• Create “sandboxes” for testing and developing public sector solutions
• Technical requirements as part of funding conditions for AI projects to ensure longevity
• Data governance workshops and data auditing
• “Bureau-Kratt” – concept of a personal virtual assistant through collaboration across networks

Read the full strategy in Estonian here.


Visit us physically or virtually

We host impactful events both in our centre and online for government institutions, companies, and media. You’ll get an overview of e-Estonia’s best practices and build links to leading IT-service providers and state experts to support your digitalisation plans.

Questions? Have a chat with us.

Call us: +372 6273157 (business hours only)

Find us

The Briefing Centre is conveniently located just 2 minutes drive from the airport and 10 to 15 minutes drive from the city centre.

You will find us on a ground floor of Valukoja 8, central entrance behind the statue of Mr Ernst Julius Öpik. Photo of the central entrance.

Valukoja 8
11415 Tallinn, Estonia