Finland is offering a free crash course in AI to everyone in the EU

18 Dec 2019

Finland's Prime Minister, Sanna Marin. Image: PA Media

The Finnish government is teaming up with the University of Helsinki and tech consultancy Reaktor to create an AI crash course suitable for all EU citizens, regardless of age, profession or education.

Finland is offering a free-of-charge online course in artificial intelligence (AI) for EU citizens, in their own languages.

The Nordic nation, headed by the world’s youngest head of government, Sanna Marin, will mark the end of its rotating presidency of the EU with a highly ambitious goal.

Finland is aiming to give practical understanding of AI to 1pc of EU citizens — or about 5m people — through a basic online course by the end of 2021.

It is teaming up with the University of Helsinki, Finland’s largest and oldest academic institution, and the Finland-based tech consultancy Reaktor.

‘Finland’s gift to Europe’

Teemu Roos, a University of Helsinki associate professor in computer science, described the near €1.8m project as “Finland’s gift to Europe” and “a civics course in AI” for every EU citizen to cope with the society’s ever-increasing digitalisation and the possibilities AI offers to the job market and elsewhere.

The course covers elementary AI concepts in a practical way and does not go into deeper concepts like coding, he said.

“We have enormous potential in Europe but what we lack is investments into AI,” Roos said, adding that the continent faces fierce AI competition from digital giants such as China and the US.

Timo Harakka, the Finnish minister for transport and communications, said last week that the country wants “to equip EU citizens with digital skills for the future and … to give a boost to the digital leadership of Europe” through the project.

The initiative will be for paid by the Finnish ministry for economic affairs and employment, and officials said the course is meant for all EU citizens whatever their age, education or profession.

Since its launch in Finland in 2018, ‘The Elements of AI’ has been phenomenally successful – the most popular course ever offered by University of Helsinki, which traces its roots back to 1640 – with more than 220,000 students from more than 110 countries having taken it so far online, Roos said.

– PA Media