Launch of prg.ai — Towards Prague as World Class AI Superhub

GoodAI
GoodAI
May 16, 2019 · 4 min read

This morning saw the launch of prg.ai, an ambitious initiative which aims to develop Prague as an AI superhub and help the Czech Republic become a major AI center of excellence in Europe.

The initiative was founded by The Czech Technical University (ČVUT), Charles University, Czech Academy of Sciences, and the City of Prague, and is supported by GoodAI as well as a range of other local and international organizations.

The launch saw speakers from many stakeholders including Marek Havrda, GoodAI’s AI Policy and Social Impacts Director.

Introducing prg.ai

Michal Pěchouček, Professor at ČVUT, opened the talks and introduced the aims of prg.ai emphasizing the importance of developing three areas: industry, start-ups, and academia. He spoke of the tangible targets of the initiative which would help make Prague an AI superhub.

Michal Pěchouček, Professor at ČVUT, introducing prg.ai

It aims, in the next five years, to:

  • Increase the AI jobs in Prague to 5000
  • See at least 500 new AI graduates each year in the Czech Republic
  • Develop 50 new AI-based start-ups each year
  • Raise 50 million of investment each year

He acknowledged the great academics and industry already present in Prague, and the fact that the city is number six in Europe for AI jobs per capita closely behind Paris and Berlin.

Prague in Europe and the World

EU Commissioner, Věra Jourová, addressed the attendees regarding the position within Europe. She said, “in a world of so many uncertainties, one thing is certain, AI will profoundly change the way we live, work, and communicate, hopefully for the better.”

She focused on three areas which will help the Czech Republic flourish on the global stage:

  • People: attracting talent from abroad, but also developing and nurturing local talent
  • Money: investing in AI research, development, and business
  • Reasonable rules: not over-regulating AI, but making sure it sticks to data protection and privacy laws

The City of Prague, a founding partner of the initiative, was represented by Zdeněk Hřib, Mayor of the City of Prague, who added that he is looking forward to using more AI technology in the city and that “the prg.ai initiative will help transform the Czech Republic into a country of the future.”

Zdeněk Hřib, the Mayor of Prague, shows his support for prg.ai

Petr Očko, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, emphasized the importance of the initiative for the Czech National AI Strategy, which was released last week, which covers seven main areas:

  1. Promotion and concentration of science, research, and development
  2. Financing research and development, investment support and the development of the AI ecosystem in the Czech
  3. AI in industry, services and public administration, economic growth, growth of wages, and overall competitiveness of the Czech Republic
  4. Human capital and the education system together with lifelong learning
  5. Measures to address the impacts of the AI on the labour market and the social system
  6. Legal and societal aspects of AI, ethical rules, consumer protection, and security issues
  7. International cooperation

Cooperation and collaboration

Cooperation and collaboration were key themes throughout the talks. Marek Havrda, GoodAI’s AI Policy and Social Impacts Director, continued this theme as he showcased the recent international collaborations of GoodAI, these included:

Marek Havrda, GoodAI’s AI Policy and Social Impacts Director, discussing GoodAI’s international work

He discussed the issue of ethics in AI and declared that “Prague is well positioned to become a major part of the global conversations on AI safety and ethics.”

Support of industry

Members of industry also shared their stories. Martin Rehák, CEO of Bulletproof AI, spoke on successful AI commercialization and how to develop secure and fair machine learning in a turbulent world.

Petr Chytil, AI and Network Security Director at Avast, also spoke about using AI to protect digital lives around the globe and how he hopes that prg.ai will benefit industry and partnerships between businesses and academia.

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