Tens of thousands of non-technology experts are taking part in a grand experiment aimed at repurposing the country’s economy toward high-end applications of artificial intelligence. Originally started as a free-access university course, Finland’s “1 percent” AI scheme is now being rolled out nationally with the support of private companies and the government.
The idea is to start by teaching 1% of the country’s population, or about 55,000 people, the basic concepts at the root of artificial technology, and gradually build on the number over the next few years.
For Helsinki, there is also a clear economic incentive to training large numbers of Finns in the basics of AI: doing so may allow Finland to stay competitive amid ever growing competition between China and the United States, and in the aftermath of the rapid decline of Nokia, the national mobile champion that has fallen on hard times.
As the two superpowers vie for technological supremacy, Finland knows it’s outclassed on raw resources. There is no point trying to compete with Beijing or Washington in terms of developing the basic technology of AI. So Finland aspires to occupy a niche, as world leader in practical applications of AI, according to Economy Minister Mika Lintilä.