Photo of the Parliament of Norway by: Benjamin A. Ward/Stortinget

Hearing on Artificial Intelligence in the Norwegian Standing Committee on Justice November 2023

Artificial intelligence as a Public Infrastructure Needs to be Strengthened Rather Than Stopped

Alex Moltzau

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This is an article with my speech to the Parliament of Norway’s Standing Committee on Justice (Justiskomiteen) on Behalf of the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium. You can find the rest of the written statements in Norwegian here. The hearing proposals by Norwegian political parties related to artificial intelligence.

The representatives of the Storting can, on their own initiative, raise matters in the Storting — representative proposals. Representative proposal S is a proposal for a resolution regarding general matters and budget matters (parliamentary resolution). It is two of these proposals that have been forwarded by Norwegian political parties.

The first political proposal was made by SV, the Socialist Left Party (232 S). It called for (1) a moratorium on AI; (2) asks the government to develop a licensing scheme for the collection, use and storage of both public data and personal data for commercial players; and (3) present a parliamentary report on artificial intelligence that explains how artificial intelligence is being worked on at all levels in all sectors.

The second political proposal was made by the Liberal Left (273 S). It asked to (1) strengthen research on AI; (2) scale up number of allocated places for students in AI-related fields; (3) prepare implementation of the EU AI Act; (4) initiate work on examining relevant aspects of the Norwegian regulatory framework; (5) establish an algorithm supervision.

What follows is my speech to the

Title: Artificial intelligence as a Public Infrastructure Needs to be Strengthened Rather Than Stopped

Standing Committee on Justice

Dear representatives of the Norwegian Parliament and participants in today’s hearing.

Let me first turn to Representative Bill 232 S.

The representative proposal by Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes and Marian Hussein mentions that huge technology companies are shifting power from the public sector to foreign companies.

That’s a good point. If we want to contribute to Norway taking a clear role here, we must strengthen the work within artificial intelligence rather than stop.

We must have an enablement through increased capacity to coordinate artificial intelligence in Norway rather than a moratorium.

Yes, the development of artificial intelligence is expensive — we could say the same about public transport, the Internet and other things in our society.

Because artificial intelligence is becoming a form of societal infrastructure. The question here in Norway is whether we want a stronger public role towards this infrastructure. Isn’t it said that language is power?

In that case, we will have to further strengthen a national construction of this basic infrastructure. The National Library’s AI lab and the work with language there is a good example.

Both the work with text, but also ensuring that we build up voice data that can be used to train models with several modalities that go between, for example, voice and text.

Artificial intelligence is more than ChatGPT, it is also about how we can strengthen the health service. Just look at how Vestre Viken at Bærum Hospital uses artificial intelligence within radiology to detect bone fractures.

Let us, instead of adding further restrictions, first discuss how we strengthen the capacity and competence in the state among the ministries and the directorate before we put up new barriers.

In view of the Storting’s report on artificial intelligence, which explains how artificial intelligence is worked on at all levels in all sectors, it can be an exciting process to build up more knowledge. So we support a review of this.

The Norwegian Office of the Auditor General has an audit underway for the use of artificial intelligence in the state ready in 2024, which could be a very positive start to getting a better overview.

We at NORA have also contributed to a draft for an overview of artificial intelligence in the public sector at the the Digitalisation Agency, which is available online. It is also important to emphasise that this must be managed more actively and needs resources if it is to offer value.

We must ensure a democratic and positive development of artificial intelligence.

We do this by strengthening work with artificial intelligence in the public sector. We need to raise competence and educate more people here in Norway.

We can do so by collaborating closely with our allies and achieve more international work. We must become a competent state that can handle this development.

So, what structures are being built in the ministries and especially in the new Ministry of Digitalisation and Administration and other areas to ensure that we can preserve our social democracy?

Ask yourself this question going forward.

So, considering Representative Bill 273S.

Many thanks to Alfred Jens Bjørlo, Guri Melby, Grunde Almeland and Sveinung Rotevatn for good thoughts. Considering the first proposal, we see that Norway is dealing with the new AI billion.

We also support the proposal for a plan for strengthening research into artificial intelligence and the importance of the use of artificial intelligence in society as a follow-up to the long-term plan. In this context, we mention President Biden’s presidential order on the safe, secure and trustworthy development and use of artificial intelligence on 30 October 2023.

In particular, the approval for the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource, a new national computing resource for research environments.

We support the scaling up of study places for educational areas that are important for artificial intelligence. In proposal number three, we support preparations for the implementation of the KI regulation.

If algorithm supervision is established, we will emphasize the importance of collaborating with the research communities.

We emphasise the importance of seeing the connection between artificial intelligence as a field and the new national Norwegian digitalisation strategy that is being prepared.

Thank you for your time.

This is also part of my personal project #1000daysofAI and you are reading article 518. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence for 1000 days. The first 500 days I wrote an article every day, and now from 500 to 1000 I write at a different pace. Adagio?

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Alex Moltzau

Policy Officer at the European AI Office in the European Commission. This is a personal Blog and not the views of the European Commission.