“Our investment has three goals: we want to equip EU citizens with digital skills for the future, we wish to increase practical understanding of what artificial intelligence is, and by doing so, we want to give a boost to the digital leadership of Europe,”

Finnish Minister of Employment Timo Harakka

Finland will offer free AI training to all EU languages starting in 2020. “It’s about one of the most pressing challenges facing Europe and Finland today: how to develop our digital literacy,” says Finnish Minister of Employment Timo Harakka.

The plan comes as Finland’s turn at the EU presidency ends.

The target is to reach 1% of the European population with free training. That equals about 50 million people. Reports say a government goal to educate 1% of Finns (approx. 55,000 people) was reached only a few months after an online course became available last year. The University of Helsinki developed the instruction.

  • The online modules emphasize problem-solving using AI tools and presents AI fundamentals. Instruction in machine learning, neural networks, and the philosophy of artificial intelligence is included. It has been offered in English, Finnish, Swedish and Estonian
  • More than 220,000 people from over 110 countries enrolled in the course since its beginning in 2018. The number of completions is not reported.
  • Finland is consistently at the forefront of public policy initiatives for AI. A comprehensive impact study, Leading the way into the age of artificial intelligence was commissioned by the Finland government and issued in June, 2019.
  • Notable in Finland’s approach is a belief that AI literacy is needed across business and society instead of being left to specialists. They say it needs to be ‘incorporated into daily work and daily life.’

Reuters reports the goal of this wider initiative is to help European companies ‘catch up with rivals in Asia and the United States.’