Great quotes from AI FORUM 2018 in Helsinki By the Editor-in-Chief

This week Helsinki has hosted the AI FORUM 2018 with a full 2-day program (see link for AI Forum 2018 videos) on the most important developments related to AI. It has been attended by leaders from the European Commission, governments, academia, experts and leading actors from the world’s biggest companies.

The Forum was designed to discuss new developments in AI and the work of the newly established European Commission High-Level Expert Group chaired by Mr. Pekka Ala-Pietilä, a former President of Nokia (1999-2005).

The best quote came from Tencent’s Mr. David Wallerstein who asked the audience about “what is a Moonshot”and what is Finland’s “Moonshot”?

He defined a Moonshot in the technology context, as an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits. That summed up very smartly what AI and Machine-learning is about and Finland is definitely on that path with a clear understanding that we do not know where or how we will land. The only thing we know, as stated by the Minister for the Economic Affairs, Minister Lintilä, “Finland has to partner up with the EU because Finland is too poor to go it alone!”

Mr. Pekka Ala-Pietilä also remarked there that “AI professionals have to learn faster than the others”– the others being the “bad boys”, when asked if the dangers of AI outweigh the benefits. His High-Level Expert Group are expected to come out with deliverables on ethics by December 2018 this year which is a very tight but admirable timetable. This will be something to look forward to over Christmas lunch but one cannot help feeling that the CRUNKS (China, Russia, North Korea) will not be caring too much about ethics this Christmas, or any other Christmas for that matter. Let’s just hope that Mr. Trump manages to woe all three with a “greater love” that will melt their hearts. On the other hand, if he does not succeed we will not have to worry too much about them and him when the earth starts to melt because of Nuclear War or Climate Changes…

Mr. Jacques Bughin, a Director at McKinsey said he was concerned about three subjects about which many do not want to talk about – these are Europe’s lack of IT scale, Europe’s low tax receipts from IT, and the lack of skilled workers:

  1. Europe is not receiving much in the way of the €150 billion in IT profits being generated in here. Most of this money he said, “Will fly back to China and the US as dividends, so Europe must invest and scale up!” The Irish and Luxembourg (thank you Mr. Juncker) have almost guaranteed to the FANGS that they pay next to nothing in taxes to the EU and its national governments – one wonders if the folk at McKinsey also acted as their strategic tax advisors…
  2. Most of McKinsey’s clients have lots of data but do not know how to use it.
  3. Thirdly he said that we do not have enough skilled workers and that the EU must invest much more in IT projects and that for every €1 invested the private sector must invest €3 as a minimum.

All three points are valid and will take years to correct.

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