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Streets, Madrid, Spain — photo by @jackgisel

Towards a National AI Strategy for Spain

An RDI Strategy in Artificial Intelligence

This article is a summary of the Spanish strategy on artificial intelligence, at least so far. It must be said that this is not a national strategy.

This strategy was written by Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, 2019 and the Artificial Intelligence Task Force (GTIA, Grupo de Trabajo de Inteligencia Artificial).

The strategy lists six priorities:

  • Priority 1 . Towards an organisational structure that allows the development of an RDI System in AI and the assessment of its impact.
  • Priority 2 . Establish strategic areas where to develop RDI activities in AI.
  • Priority 3. Define and develop actions that allow the transfer of knowledge.
  • Priority 4. Develop a system to promote cross — disciplinary and vocational training in Artificial Intelligence.
  • Priority 5. Develop a digital data ecosystem and enhance infrastructures
  • Priority 6: Analyze the ethics of AI from the perspective of RDI.

It is of course somewhat striking that the ethics is placed last as a priority.

They have seven recommendations within this:

  1. Launch a National Strategy for AI.
  2. AI value to reach the ODS set by the Agenda 2030.
  3. Impact the social and economic fabric with AI.
  4. Include the knowledge and use of AI in the labour market and the promotion, recovery and attraction of talent.
  5. AI for the use of Public Administrations Data.
  6. Include AI in the education system as a lever for technological change in the country.
  7. Ensure the ethical use of AI in all its fields [of] applications

In the Strategy

Introduction there are mentions of the technology revolution. Again citing a large consulting firm (PwC):

The economic and social potential of AI is a central issue in the discussion of its possible impacts. Some studies predict that IA could add about 14 trillion Euros to the global economy by 2030 and double economic growth rates by 2035.

Image from the report

This is described more in detail in the report. They proceed to describe the ecosystem:

Our country has a solid RDI system that is enabling the creation of a science and technology — based ecosystem for AI and that still has a wide margin for growth

There is apparently still less money invested in startups focused on AI in Spain as opposed to other countries such as France, Germany or UK.

According to the document Spain is one of the most important AI countries. They cite Roland Berger “ Joining the dots - A map of Europe´s AI Ecosystem”, the four most important AI countries in Europe are the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, which contribute 60% of start - ups, laboratories and communities 33 of the 30 countries analysed (EU, plus Switzerland and Norway).

Investments in EU account for 8% while China and the US account for 85%. On the other hand according to the The European AI Landscape it is outlined that Europe is at the forefront of AI and robotics.

They mention Leonardo Torres Quevedo as an important historical figure in Spain in terms of development of AI with his demonstration of chess automation in 1912. Further they tell of how the community in Spain has developed.

Specific indicators are being established and the Goverment AI readiness index is mentioned.

There is a detailed description of financing mechanisms with estimation of actions.

It mentions the importance of sharing responsibility with public administration in improving mechanisms and increasing the effectiveness of the instruments currently in force.

They list characteristics of articulation mechanisms and financing instruments:

  • Instruments incrementing the investment of the national and international private sector.
  • Maintaining open — access data, results, publications and codes.
  • Co — responsibility of the Public Administrations in the development of the priorities established in the Strategy.
  • Mechanisms that allow the implementation and use of AI technologies in the different priority sectors
  • Mechanisms for improving existing instruments and access to funding

Within the second priority they list different strategic areas:

As well as a list of the most relevant technologies within these areas:

After this it talks of AI in society glossing over the various existing discussions. Focusing mostly on education and health.

They talk too of building digital infrastructure in computing particularly and make datasets available from the public sector.

In short, Spain should encourage the creation of a digital infrastructure associated with AI , not necessarily centralized, but distributed and providing the different components of the infrastructure, specifically data sets, certifications of processes and stored data, commonly used AI algorithms and computational physical infrastructures that can be included in pan — European infrastructures. [bold in original text]

It emphasises too that Spain has a fiber optic network that covers 76% of their population.

In terms of ethics (priority 6) they outline:

  • Developments in AI technologies should avoid negative bias and gender bias or other forms of discrimination.
  • The Spanish Committee on Research Ethics should lead the activities o f analysis and assessment of the ethical aspects of the use and implementation of AI in the activities developed in the State R D I Plans.
  • Approach, from a multidisciplinary vision, the general design of AI systems from an alignment of ethical, legal and social aspects
  • Contribute from R D I in the drafting of a Code of Ethics for AI

With this they say:

In this priority, the ultimate objective of the Spanish scientific community will be to app roach, from a multidisciplinary viewpoint, the general design of AI systems from an alignment of ethical, legal and social aspects.

After this they return to and elaborate on their recommendations.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 216. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. My current focus for 100 days 200–300 is national and international strategies for artificial intelligence.



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Alex Moltzau

Alex Moltzau

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.