Åsa Zetterberg, the Government's Chief Digital Officer. Photo: Ninni Andersson/Government Offices of Sweden

The development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) is a priority for the Government and the focus of the National Innovation Council meeting on 19 March 2018. Åsa Zetterberg, the Government’s Chief Digital Officer, is invited to the meeting to take part in discussions on how the Government can contribute to the development and use of AI throughout society.

Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines. By processing large amounts of data, patterns and relationships are detected that make it possible for machines to learn, understand, make decisions and act in a similar way to humans.

AI a key catalyst for innovation and development

AI is a very powerful tool and technology that opens up opportunities for new skills, working methods, business ideas and services, making it a key catalyst for innovation and development. This can strengthen Sweden’s competitiveness and welfare. Today, AI is used to support reasoning and decision-making, diagnostics, home assistants, robotic process automation, self-driving vehicles, health apps, speech and image recognition, translation, adaptive learning programmes, financial fraud prevention, customisation of online shopping and more.

Positive innovation climate a success factor for Sweden

There is massive potential for AI in Sweden – in the public sector, business, research and for individuals. Sweden is one of the world’s most digitally advanced countries and has a positive innovation climate and a technology-oriented population.

“We are well placed to strengthen our competitiveness and ensure that our Swedish companies can reach a global market. If we are to succeed, we have to act quickly and intelligently,” says Ms Zetterberg.

Skills deficit a challenge

One of the greatest challenges is the skills deficit. Sweden’s AI ambitions are high. This is why the Government is engaging in an active dialogue on the issues and taking initiatives to support development.

“We need broad engagement and perseverance by other stakeholders in the public sector, business and academia. In particular, we need measures to deal with the skills deficit and to support lifelong learning and applications,” says Ms Zetterberg.

Ethics and transparency important issues

Now that society is moving towards wider use and application of AI, we also need to take people’s concerns seriously and increase knowledge about what AI is and what it isn’t. “Regarding the development of algorithms and AI, we also need to raise ethics and transparency issues to ensure that AI is used for the benefit of humankind,” says Ms Zetterberg.