As an educational Christmas present, Finland is offering a free online course on artificial intelligence to all European citizens. The course – titled ‘Elements of AI’ – is a series of free online courses realized by the University of Helsinki and the Finnish tech company Reaktor.
This initiative – shouldered by The Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU – is aimed to invest in developing the future skills of people, respond to the challenges posed by the transformation of work, and to reinforce the digital leadership of the EU.
“The significance of AI is growing. To make use of it, we need digital skills. Changing labour markets, the transformation of work, digitalization and intensifying global competition all mean one thing for the EU: we must invest in people. Every EU citizen should have the opportunity to pursue continuous lifelong learning, regardless of age and educational background,” said Timo Harakka, Minister of Employment of Finland.
Finland will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the beginning of July until the end of December 2019. “As our Presidency ends, we want to offer something concrete. It’s about one of the most pressing challenges facing Europe and Finland today: how to develop our digital literacy,” Harakka added.
The Elements of AI course is designed to encourage people to learn the basics of artificial intelligence, irrespective of their age or education. The original goal behind this course was to educate 1% of Finnish people, which amounted to roughly 55,000 people, in the basics of AI. This goal, however, was accomplished in just a few months. Therefore, the revised goal of this course is to train 1% of European citizens in the basics of AI by 2021.
First published in 2018, Elements of AI is already available in English (global), Finnish, Swedish, Estonian and German. It will be available in all the official EU languages – new languages will be launching during the spring of 2020. The technical language translation has been provided by the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission. Since its inception, ver 270,000 students from over 170 countries have signed up for the Elements of AI course.
“Our University has a policy of making its research and expertise benefits society at large. As research into artificial intelligence is highly advanced in Finland, it came naturally to us to make AI teaching more widely accessible,” said Teemu Roos, Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Helsinki.
The initiative will incur a total cost of €1,679,000, which will be funded from the budget of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.
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