KEY POINTS

  • Finland is offering a free online course to all EU citizens to help Europeans become more aware of the advantages and limitations of AI technology
  • The course will be made available in all EU languages, with Finland hoping that 5 million EU citizens will take the course by 2021
  • Finland is hoping to become a major AI powerhouse within Europe 

The Finnish government is offering a free online course on artificial intelligence to all citizens of the European Union to educate Europeans about how AI is used and can transform society.

The course is called "Elements of AI" and was developed by the University of Helsinki along with strategy and design company Reaktor.

"We want to encourage as broad a group of people as possible to learn what AI is, what can -- and can't -- be done with AI, and how to start creating AI methods," the course's website says.

Teemu Roos, a computer science professor at the University of Helsinki, called the course "Finland's gift to Europe." 

"We have enormous potential in Europe but what we lack is investments into AI," Roos said. 

Finland hopes that 5 million EU citizens will have taken the course by the end of 2021. The course was a nearly $2 million project underwritten by the Finnish Ministry for Economic Affairs and Employment. The course is currently available in English, Swedish, Finnish and Estonian, but eventually will be available in all EU languages.

Finland hopes to become a major AI powerhouse within Europe, with the Finnish government launching an investment program into AI technologies and education. 

"The Finnish government is acutely aware that AI will change our jobs and careers, and wants to understand how it will affect individual people and our society," said Pekka Ala-Pietila, the chairman of the steering group that helped create Finland's AI initiative

"Finland has huge potential to become one of the leading countries in exploiting the benefits of AI," he continued. "The idea is to make it easy for businesses to utilize AI, and to support the public sector in building predictive, AI-powered digital services based on people's major life events."