19-12-2019 4:54 am Published by Nederland.ai Leave your thoughts

All citizens of the European Union will have free access to a university course to understand AI.

Finland offers all citizens of the European Union a hi-tech Christmas gift – a free online course on artificial intelligence, in their own language, Finnish officials said Tuesday.

The technically ingenious Scandinavian country, led by 34-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin, marks the end of his rotating EU presidency at the end of the year with a very ambitious goal.

Rather than handing out the usual ties and scarves to EU officials and journalists, the Finnish government has opted to give 1 percent of all EU citizens – around five million people – practical insight into AI by the end of 2021 through an online basic course .

It cooperates with the University of Helsinki, the largest and oldest academic institution in Finland, and the technical consulting firm Reaktor based in Finland.

Teemu Roos, an associate professor at the computer science department of the University of Helsinki, described the nearly $ 2 million project as “a civic course in AI” to help EU citizens cope with the ever-increasing digitization of society and the possibilities that AI offers on the labor market.
The dark side of artificial intelligence [2:29].

The course deals with basic AI concepts in a practical way and does not address deeper concepts such as coding, he said.

“We have huge potential in Europe, but we lack investment in AI,” said Roos, adding that the continent is facing fierce AI competition from digital giants such as China and the United States.

The initiative is funded by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and officials said the course is for all EU citizens – regardless of their age, education or occupation.

Since its launch in Finland in 2018, “The Elements of AI” has been a phenomenal success – the most popular course ever offered by the University of Helsinki, which originated in 1640 – with more than 220,000 students from more than 110 countries have followed the course online, says Roos.

A quarter of those registered so far are 45 years and older and about 40 percent are women. The proportion of women is nearly 60 percent among Finnish participants – a remarkable figure in the male-dominated technology industry.

The online course, which consists of different modules, is intended to be completed full-time in about six weeks – or up to six months according to a lighter schedule – and is currently available in Finnish, English, Swedish and Estonian.

Together with Reaktor and local EU partners, the university will translate it into the other 20 official languages of the EU in the next two years.

Megan Schaible, COO of Reaktor Education, said during the presentation of the project in Brussels last week that the company decided to join forces with the Finnish university “to prove that AI should not be left in the hands of a few elite coders “.

An official diploma from the University of Helsinki will be awarded to those who succeed, and Roos said that many EU universities would likely give credits for taking the course so that students can include it in their curriculum.

For technology enthusiasts, the computer science department at the University of Helsinki is known as the alma mater of Linus Torvalds, the Finnish software engineer who developed the Linux operating system while studying there in the early 1990s.

In September, Google established its free Digital Garage training center in the Finnish capital to help job seekers, entrepreneurs, and children improve their digital skills, including AI.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/finland-offers-artificial-intelligence-christmas-gift-191217210740672.html

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