Trakai, Lithuania — photo by @maksimshutov

Lithuanian Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2019

In April 2019 Lithuania Published Their AI Strategy and This is a Summary

This is a short summary of the Lithuanian Artificial Intelligence Strategy: A Vision of the Future published in April 2019.

In the fall of 2018 an expert group met up with the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence technologies. The group, whose purpose was to guide and advise on the contents of this document, consisted of expert representatives from the private sector, public sector and academia.

The group consisted of industry leaders, academic experts and government representatives, all with knowledge on the Lithuanian AI ecosystem. A Landscape Report was released by the group in November of 2018 highlights both the key areas where Lithuania is successful in AI and where there is room for growth. The Landscape Report can be summed up in short with the following:

  • In 2017, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) programs in universities were the fourth most popular choice for students,
  • The industry portion mainly focused on the artificial intelligence industry itself. In total, there were 39 SMEs engaged in AI product research and delivery. 89% of these were engaged in B2B product delivery.
  • In the period between 2015 and 2018, public sector investment in AI was more significant than private sector with a total of EUR 26.5 million and EUR 3.2 million respectively. In total 39 different AI projects received funding from Ministry of Economy and Innovation initiatives, totaling EUR 12.5 million since 2016.
  • Lithuania has an active artificial intelligence community with a handful of regular events and meetups bringing together the professionals working the field. Around 1000–1500 people are attending these events, with 300–500 active working professionals.

The expert group is now responsible for reviewing and approving the strategic guidelines and recommendations in the new report the Lithuanian Artificial Intelligence Strategy: A Vision of the Future published in April 2019.

In the beginning they reference the European Union taking initiative with a coordinated plan on AI that was released in December of 2018. The main goal of the plan is “for Europe to become the world-leading region for developing and deploying cutting-edge, ethical and secure AI, promoting a human-centric approach in the global context.”

They also reference Accenture with their report “Artificial Intelligence is the future of growth” claiming that AI can help double annual economic growth rates, boost labor productivity, and shorten the timeline to growth with various degrees of effectiveness for most countries. Later there is a mention of a McKinsey Global Institute report showing that AI has the potential to deliver a global economic impact of an estimated $13 trillion by 2030.

  1. To advice the public sector on ethical AI regulation and implementation.
  2. To establish trust in the rules, laws and norms that governs AI.
  3. To encourage transparency and fairness in AI applications.
  4. To encourage ethics by design.

Within each of these four they have specific mechanisms to assist the principles that are specific policy recommendations. For example on point four: “Mechanism: Encourage schools at the high school level to discuss ethical implications of technology.”

This is done with different approaches or layers.

  • Lithuania — The innermost network consists of two central hubs: Vilnius and Kaunas.
  • Global Lithuania — The second innermost network seeks to strengthen ties with AI experts in Lithuania’s diaspora.
  • Baltic region — The third innermost network aims to develop and maintain relationships with Lithuania’s neighbors: Latvia and Estonia.
  • Nordic-Baltic region — The first outermost network positions Lithuania with its extended neighbors. This network can similarly be strengthened through more shared initiatives and transfer of knowledge.
  • European Union — The second outermost network identifies Lithuania within the European Union framework and legislation.
  • Global — The third outermost network frames Lithuania within a global context. Lithuania seeks to take an active role in the global artificial intelligence community.

Private sector is mentioned as leaders with the potential gain for the frontrunners and high expectations from businesses. In public sector they mention (although highly controversial elsewhere) crime prediction; intelligent assistants for citizens; and workflows in government that can be optimised.

  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing is the largest sector of the Lithuanian economy, generating 20,4% of the country’s GDP.
  • Agriculture: An area that is often slow to technological advancement, agriculture plays a vital role in the Lithuanian economy.
  • Healthcare: The recent adoption of a national Electronic Health Record system has helped modernize the healthcare system in Lithuania.
  • Transportation: Transportation, especially logistics, is vital to the interworking of the Lithuanian economy. AI systems can automate traffic control and reduce travel times.
  • Energy: The energy sector should utilize AI systems to create more efficient methods for delivering power.

Policy recommendations:

  1. To increase the use of AI systems in the private sector
  2. To increase the use of AI systems in the public sector.
  3. To target key economic sectors that will benefit the most from artificial intelligence systems adoption.
  • According to the Automation, skills use and training report done by OECD, in Lithuania the work tasks of the median laborer have a 57% chance of being automated. This positions Lithuania as the second most country with the highest chance of job automation, behind only the Slovak Republic.

The reaction here in brief in the report is:

  1. More focus on STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) taught at schools.
  2. In higher education more emphasis should be made on supplemental course work that teaches AI and technologies for students in programs that do not traditionally require it.
  3. To ensure the current labor force has the competencies needed for a shifting job market.

This section mentions the Chinese government’s New Generation of Artificial Intelligence Development plan that looks to invest US$150 billion in the next few years. They argue that:

“Smaller states do not have the resources to match this level of investment, which is why it is important for them to tailor individual strategies that are more focused and work for them.”

Since 2016, the Lithuanian government financed EUR 12.5 million worth of projects in artificial intelligence systems, which were for private sector organizations creating innovative solutions. In addition, academic research projects in artificial intelligence received EUR 6.5 million.

Although Lithuania has other relevant institutes there is no centre that focuses primarily on AI. “In order to remain relevant in the global AI community, Lithuania must consider the possibility of financing a center or hub for AI research.”

Policy recommendations are as follows:

  1. To create a level of excellence in research and development for artificial intelligence systems.
  2. To create a high-level educational environment that will encourage continued research in AI.

“The Lithuanian government has initiatives aimed at creating an open data ecosystem in the public sector. An online portal Opendata.gov.lt exists where users may upload data; however, the lack of data literacy limits usability. 91% of data is uploaded in a closed format, and up to 64% data sets uploaded are single purpose and not regularly updated.”

Therefore they suggest that a centralised hub for data administration in the public sector would unify Lithuania’s approach to data and promote more involvement from the public sector in the open data ecosystem.

Their policy recommendations are as follows:

  1. To create a stable and AI-friendly data environment, with focus on the public sector.
  2. To ensure that Lithuania’s data meets international standard requirements.

The Lithuanian Artificial Intelligence Strategy: A Vision of the Future published in April 2019 provides recommendations to the government of the Republic of Lithuania, with the goal described: “To modernize and expand the current AI ecosystem in Lithuania and ensure that the nation is ready for a future with AI.” The recommendations are intended both to help the nation utilize the economic potential of AI systems and avoid potential societal pitfalls.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 210. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. My current focus for 100 days 200–300 is national and international strategies for artificial intelligence.

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau

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