The Nordic region and the world as a whole are on the threshold of revolutionary change and fantastic new opportunities. AI will be an important tool for tackling many of the challenges facing the Nordic countries. We can use AI to fight climate change, save lives in healthcare and streamline the public sector.
Nordic municipalities are also looking into ways to use this technology. This brings with it ethical problems. Should we use artificial intelligence to identify people in need of help before we might otherwise have done, for example? Would that be a good public service or surveillance? How the ethical problems are dealt with will affect peoples trust in the public sector – both positively and negatively – and has consequences for broader social trust, which is high in the Nordic region and crucial for our social model.
The report Nordic municipalities’ work with artificial intelligence by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretariat’s Policy Analysis and Statistics Unit looks at how selected municipalities have been working with AI and how it affects social trust. Truls Stende, lead author and advisor to the Nordic Council of Ministers, says that the report made several interesting discoveries.
“We found out that the way in which municipalities work with AI can be crucial to whether trust in them goes up or down. It was also striking that many of the municipalities we talked to were working on similar problems and solutions but knew nothing about each other’s work. There is plenty of scope for Nordic co-operation,” Stende says.
The report stresses that it would be sensible for Nordic municipalities to work together on the issue because it would lead to a smoother and more effective introduction of artificial intelligence. If the municipalities join forces, they can avoid unfortunate incidents that might have a detrimental effect on trust. The can pool their competencies and work through issues together. The report advocates systematic and regular programmes of information exchange, drawing up Nordic guidelines and conducting joint research and development projects.
“In their vision for 2030, the Nordic Prime Ministers stress the need for the countries to work together and create a competitive and socially sustainable Nordic region. New technology will be an important part of this process. As the report shows, we still have plenty of untapped potential we can draw on in our municipalities,” says Paula Lehtomäki, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.