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This is how Norway puts artificial intelligence to use

February 7, 2020
By The Explorer

Joshua Sortino/Unsplash

Artificial intelligence makes it possible to reduce resource use and process vast amounts of data, and, in certain cases, make better decisions than humans. It can even reduce stress in fish.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a word on everyone’s lips. Computing power and the sheer amount of data to be processed are growing exponentially. With AI, vast opportunities are opening up for performing tasks that used to require human intelligence in better, faster and more efficient ways.

This can be good news for our planet, according to Kjell Reidar Mydske – head of the Cluster for Applied AI, a specialised industrial cluster run by Smart Innovation Norway.

I believe artificial intelligence can directly promote sustainability.

Kjell Reidar Mydske, Cluster for Applied AI

According to Mydske, this is because AI can be used to develop new and improved ways of performing resource-intensive tasks.

“Artificial intelligence has enormous potential when it comes to increasing the efficiency of various processes. Wasting energy and raw materials is the direct opposite of sustainability, so artificial intelligence can really make a difference here.”

The World Economic Forum, meanwhile, concluded in its Global Risks Report 2017 that although AI is the technology that can have the greatest positive ripple effects for the global population, it is also the technology associated with the highest risk. There are issues regarding transparency, the potential for abusing AI, privacy, and the “dirty data” – that is, inaccurate, manipulated or systemically biased data.

These are challenges that Norway takes very seriously. The Norwegian Government recently launched a National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence that sets out how the country will develop trustworthy AI-based technology that promotes sustainable development.

Sensonomic

Quick facts about AI

  • Enables software to perform tasks that previously required human intelligence

  • Exponentially better than humans at pattern recognition and data processing

  • Can be used for natural language processing, image analysis and robotics

AI in Norway

So what are Norway’s competitive advantages in terms of becoming a leading AI nation? Mydske lists several.

“Norway is a highly digital country and is at the forefront when it comes to new technology. However, the question is which technology are we using – and the answer is often technology developed in other countries. Norway should be developing more of the artificial intelligence used here. We are in a good position to do so.”

The Norwegian population in general and Norwegian business and industry in particular are highly digitally literate, and often take the lead when it comes to adopting new technology. In addition, Norway has a well-developed regulatory framework for digital technologies and services, as well as one of the most digitalised and technologically advanced public sectors in the world.

But Norway’s greatest competitive advantage is perhaps the high level of public trust in both the business and public sectors and the close tripartite cooperation between employers, unions and government. This is an excellent basis for establishing regulations and ethical principles for exploiting AI.

Robynne Hu/Unsplash

Using AI to promote sustainability

The head of the Cluster for Applied AI sees more Norwegian companies than ever achieving good results with sustainable AI solutions.

“I like what Völur has done: they use artificial intelligence to increase the efficiency of meat production. They are finding ways of getting the most food out of each animal, which can reduce the climate footprint from agriculture. In addition, we have eSmart Systems, which is using artificial intelligence to make it easier to maintain the electricity grid. In practice this means fewer helicopter trips to repair power lines, among other things,” Mydske says.

The National Strategy for AI points out that Norway can become a leader in applying AI, particularly in sectors where the country already has a strong global position, such as energy, ocean industries and health.

In fisheries, for example, AI can be a useful tool for fishermen for avoiding bycatch and overfishing, as well as for monitoring fish stocks, identifying over-harvesting and setting quotas.

The Norwegian company Scantrol Deep Vision has developed a revolutionary, AI-based tool to help trawlers to catch the right fish. Using a subsea camera, the Deep Vision system identifies and measures fish under water – without bringing the catch onboard the vessel. This makes it easier to stop the trawl when the catch quota has been filled and to reduce bycatch.

Fishency Innovation

Other Norwegian companies are developing AI-based solutions for improving production efficiency and fish welfare in aquaculture – which is important for feeding a growing population in a sustainable manner. AI has been shown to be a particularly useful tool for preventing and controlling sea lice outbreaks in farmed salmon.

CreateView tackles the problem by combining sensors, cameras and AI to collect and analyse enormous amounts of data from net pens. This allows fish farmers to deal with sea lice outbreaks at an early stage, as well as to use the data to optimise vaccination and feeding – reducing both production costs and the ecological footprint, as well as improving fish welfare by reducing stress.

Norway is making strides in other areas in other areas as well, such as sustainable urban planning. Spacemaker’s AI-based solution generates building site proposals that assess multiple factors, such as infrastructure, terrain, mobility and quality of life. The solution then visualises the proposals and explains their properties, helping architects and site developers to make well-informed decisions.

Although there is a certain amount of scepticism to AI and whether it can be developed and used responsibly, these examples show how AI can be an important tool for building better societies and increasing value creation. With a national strategy for trustworthy AI and highly innovative companies, Norway is well equipped to exploit the potential of this exciting technology.

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