Published 2020-01-16

Norway launches national AI strategy

On Tuesday Jan 14th, the Norwegian Minister of Digitalisation Nikolai Astrup presented Norway’s first ever National strategy on Artificial Intelligence.

The Norwegian AI strategy serves as a high-level description of the government’s ambitions to steer and support AI developments in the country. Schibsted has contributed with suggestions during its development, and we now welcome the first version of the strategy! A full report on Schibsted’s input to the strategy can be accessed (in Norwegian) here. Notable contributions include:

  • Invest in AI research and education at various levels, especially regarding nationally important business sectors (e.g. fishery, energy, health care and media)
  • Consider new collaborative solutions to data storage and sharing
  • Establish financial aid schemes for AI efforts
  • Establish clear principles for ethical and righteous use of AI

Responsible AI as competitive advantage

Ethics, trust and responsibility are said to mark the foundation of Norwegian AI. As highlighted by Nikolai Astrup in his preface to the strategy, such conduct might be taken for granted in Norway, but constitutes a competitive advantage in the global AI-arena. Schibsted agrees with the seven principles for responsible AI suggested in the Norwegian strategy and commit to developing AI in line with them.

From theory to practice

In the Norwegian strategy, industry associations are encouraged to bring forward customised industry standards and certifications based on the principles of responsible AI. This may be useful. It is, however, important to highlight that there are already many resources on responsible AI shared both nationally and internationally that now need to be brought to practice. Actors in various industries – Schibsted included – should strive to get to work and develop responsible AI.

‘Regulatory sandboxes’ can be an efficient tool to spark innovation

The Norwegian AI strategy reveals that the government has an ambition to foster ‘regulatory sandboxes’ for various AI domains and the Norwegian Data Protection Authority will be  mandated to do “algorithm inspections”. At Schibsted we agree with the Norwegian government, and find this is an intriguing idea both in terms of sparking innovation and understanding risks and challenges. If detected at an early stage, we may better work to find solutions to the challenges raised by AI.

… but no country is a sandbox in regards to AI

The current competitive landscape in technology and media – where companies such as Google and Facebook possess immense data resources – bring forward significant challenges and dilemmas facing actors like Schibsted. The Norwegian AI strategy states that the government wishes to enable ‘world-class AI’, yet we find that the strategy lacks comments on international dependencies and competition.  Any effort aimed at empowering responsible and competitive AI must take the global competition landscape into consideration. As noted in the Norwegian AI strategy, the government has an ambition to establish an expert group to provide advice on data and sharing of such. We urge the government to take international competition and developments into consideration when forming and running such groups.

AI requires new skills

Education is a central theme in the Norwegian strategy. At Schibsted we celebrate and  agree with the Norwegian ambitions and strive to help educate students, employees, users, policy makers and other stakeholders in the coming years. We believe ourselves to have a responsibility to both further our own knowledge about AI and empower our communities to do the same. We are currently part of multiple research projects related to digitalisation and AI, and we have an ambition to further help foster collaboration across private and public sectors in our markets.

During the launch of the Norwegian strategy, Nikolai Astrup presented the Norwegian version of the #AIchallenge – a call for organisations and individuals to further their knowledge about AI through the Elements of AI course; an introduction to the fundamentals of AI (no previous tech experience needed!). Schibsted has accepted his challenge and All Schibsted employees are encouraged to take the Elements of AI course and deepen their understanding of AI. The course, originating from Finland, is available in four of the “Schibsted languages” (English, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish).

Focus on language AI

The Norwegian AI strategy reveals an ambition to further Norwegian capabilities in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG). AI is expected to become an incredible tool for processing and generating textual content, and as a media company we are dedicated to foster developments in this field. The current state of language-related AI varies heavily depending on the national and cultural context in which it operates, and we are pleased to see the Norwegian government share our ambition to further develop Scandinavian capabilities.

Increased public demands require increased business understanding

As noted in the strategy, the Norwegian government aims to investigate areas where it is in society’s interest to demand that data from the private sector is made public. At present it is not disclosed what areas this might concern, but we urge the government to pay close attention to the potential competition challenges such action may generate.

Iteration, iteration, iteration!

While some of the technological concepts have been around since the 1950’s, the current rate of AI developments signal that we are to experience great development leaps in the coming years. This means that any approach to develop, manage or regulate AI requires iteration, and we salute the Norwegian government for welcoming such.

As we ourselves iterate on AI across our portfolio, Schibsted is eager to contribute with more lealrnings for later versions of the Norwegian AI strategy!

Are you ready for the AI challenge?

All employees of Schibsted, no matter role or function, are encouraged to take this free, introductory course to AI.

Elements of AI in English

Elements of AI in Swedish

Elements of AI in Norwegian

Elements of AI in Finnish