By Aldis Ērglis, Intelligent Machines Riga
Large countries like USA and China officially announced that they have AI (Artificial Intelligence) strategy, some countries like the United Arab Emirates have even state minister of AI (https://futurism.com/uae-minister-artificial-intelligence). Recently France president Emmanuel Macron in a large interview for Wired (https://www.wired.com/story/emmanuel-macron-talks-to-wired-about-frances-ai-strategy) also announced that France will have state strategy for AI. Macron stated that focus areas in AI for France are Health Care and Mobility (self-driving cars and workforce mobility). He also speaks about open data and even open algorithms for political and regulatory processes in the country.
It seems that AI field is changing from previous technological development dominance by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and a wide range of other companies to practical use cases in business and even in politics and governance.
I expected that first we will hear widely about AI strategy for almost every company but there are some AI strategies on country level already.
Of course, my question is about small countries, like Latvia with less than 3 million people and tens of similar size countries over the world. Are we too small for own AI development and need to wait for developments in larger countries and use what they give us? Or should we come with an initiative to create European Union AI strategy for all EU members? In France example, we see that large countries will go forward by themselves.
To answer to question about AI strategy for the small country, we need to step back and think about what is AI strategy? According to Michael Porter strategy is a way how we make a focus on what we spend resources and how we differentiate – create unique proposition. AI Strategy is how we spend resources in the field of AI development to make a unique proposition for people and business. Therefore, a small country must have their own AI Strategy because resources are very limited and secondly it will be very hard to differentiate by using large country developments without local specifics.
State priorities in AI field could be education or transportation or health care or state services or something else. The small country probably can’t focus on more than one field. Therefore, it must be selected carefully and well linked to country development strategy.
The state must define AI strategy to start creating state AI ecosystem linked with scientific organizations and businesses locally and internationally. To be an equal partner on global AI field small countries need to offer something very unique (unique developments, unique experience), very specific niche solution and well developed what usually means an investment of resources, real-life approbation, and communication. Therefore, the decision must be prepared carefully.
Latvia could be a leader in AI solutions in the fields of forest management, ecological agriculture, export development, e-government, and others if starts to invest in it right now and try to implement solutions in real life acquiring experience what will be equally exchanged with experience of other countries in future.
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