We’ve reached a stage where it’s not enough to sit back, hands clasped on the neck and think that everything will sort itself out, especially in an area where even the most minuscule processes remain dynamic and fresh. Some weeks ago, I wrote about the future of AI and my rather optimistic outlook on the concept as a whole. It’s time to mention and relate this to a country that has remained static in its attempts to embrace this new technology; Sweden, a country that usually receives its fair share of compliments and praise when it comes to things tech-related – I’m still looking at companies like Spotify, Klarna, iZettle and to bring in something more rebellious into the picture, Piratebay.
But what about Artificial Intelligence? Will its efforts stretch into setting up an environment where AI can be implemented to succeed and not stagnate? According to a recent study in partnership with The Economist, things are not looking good at all in the area of the Automation Readiness Index where Sweden is edged out of the top 25 countries in the world. Now that is one statistic where Sweden really does not hold on well and could prove costly now that the powerhouse is picking up speed in Europe and the world.
Despite major efforts, Sweden will find it difficult to be at the forefront of the development of AI. A reasonable goal, instead, is to strengthen the welfare and prosperity of the country by becoming the world’s best in applying the new technology. But first, a series of reforms must be in place for how to relate to AI. Sweden should strive to invest in becoming the world’s best in applying AI principles in core areas of the society and economy. We’ve seen Volvo applying such principles, why can’t the rest follow?
Digitilization is the leverage needed to build Sweden’s future. If we look back, innovations such as the semiconductor, microchip, mainframe computers and the internet were the benefactors that completely changed society. In the same way, today’s developments in AI and others are accelerating in new areas of technology that is commencing its charter for changing the world.
AI is definitely the technique that should be placed firmly within the cross-hairs. It will characterize how the future’s society will look. Sweden is unfortunately a small country and does not have the size or the weight to lead technological development and the competition is already stubborn between international companies and countries that have more than double the resources than can be obtained compared to the Nordic country.
Instead of leading the development of the new technology itself, Sweden should aim to be the best in the world for its practical use and application. After all, that’s what digitilization is all about: using the new technology to the benefit of society and maximizing the benefit for the individual. But it’s not an easy trip; A number of reforms will be required to ensure that AI can be used by society in the best possible way.
The following three points should be particularly important:
National leadership. In order for Sweden to be the best in the world in the application of AI principles, a driving and clear leadership is needed that can pave the way forward. It also requires extensive work on exploring and analyzing the ethical issues that will be increasingly relevant in line with the implementation of AI; the technology should be used in the service of society, not on the contrary. A leadership must enjoy a high degree of autonomy and also have a clear mandate to act on these issues.
A move towards CORPORATE AI reform. The path to success lies in the fact that small and medium-sized companies begin to apply the technology. This requires knowledge of how the technology can be used in its own operations. One example that has been mentioned is Volvo – this should be used extensively as a role model in further corporate applications. Today, the knowledge of many companies is lacking, which is a problem. Therefore, research resources and knowledge capital at its institutions should approach the business community to drive ideas forward. Similarly, there should be a need to create financial incentives for companies to embrace it. The home-PC reform slipped Sweden into the digitalization bubble. A similar reform for AI use in Swedish companies is now needed: a sort of “company-AI reform”.
Make Sweden an international test bed for AI technology. Sweden and Swedish companies are largely early adopters of new technology. At the same time, Swedish authorities have extensive public records that collect very useful data, and AI relies on data for calculations and learning. Sweden therefore has good prospects to be the perfect country to develop and test the new technology extensively. It is an opportunity that must be embraced.
Early implementation of AI will have major positive effects on Sweden’s well-being and prosperity. The new technology is no longer a fringe phenomenon, but must be treated as an important national issue. In order for society to benefit from technology, it is crucial for Sweden to act quickly and take the lead position in the application of AI. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to compete with the rest of the world. Let the Automation Readiness Index be an indicator that it needs to act NOW. The clock is ticking.
Evolvera – always changing, always evolving