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Estonia is creating a free-to-use source code repository for its AI-based solutions

Estonia has had an artificial intelligence or kratt strategy since summer 2019. The strategy includes creating a free-to-use AI toolbox for private and public sectors that is now becoming a reality.

The first base component for future artificial intelligence (AI) based applications, which all parties from the public and private sectors alike are free to use and develop in accordance with their needs, has reached the source code repository of the Estonian state, ERR announced.

“Relying on common solutions in places where there’s no point in reinventing the wheel has been one of the mainstays of the Estonian digital state. This is how X-Road and the digital identity were born, for instance, which made developing e-services several times faster and easier for everyone,” Siim Sikkut, Government Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Deputy Secretary-General for IT and Telecom, said in a press release of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

“Now we want to bring the same platform-based approach and acceleration into the field of AI, and I’m glad that the first step in that direction has been taken,” Sikkut explained.

Texta – a text analytics toolkit

The first base component for AI-based solutions published is the textual analysis tool created by Texta OÜ. The first tool has already been used by several institutions such as the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Justice to streamline their work processes and automate routine activities.

Texta tool allows to identify documents which have gone public without permission or stripe personal data from judicial decisions, where punishments are expunged, and make the decisions available in the court information system again.

What is a kratt?

In Estonian mythology, kratt is a magical creature. Essentially, a kratt was a servant built from hay or old household items that performed various tasks aimed at collecting wealth for its owner. Now the term is widely used as a metaphor for AI and its complexities.

The term kratt also refers to practical applications based on artificial intelligence technologies performing a specific function.

Sandbox for AI cooperation

As a frequent testbed for new technologies, Estonia sees AI as just the latest entry. Estonian companies are already using kratts in several business areas for optimising business processes, automating customer service, in product quality control, risk mitigation, and elsewhere. There are at least 23 AI solutions deployed in the Estonian public sector, with a goal of having at least 50 AI use cases by 2020.

Estonia’s AI strategy has four pillars: boosting AI in government, encouraging AI implementations in the business sector, continuous education of R&D skills and legal environment.

The sandbox model, created for cooperation, will provide opportunities for private sector to develop and launch innovative digital solutions in the field of artificial intelligence or kratts.

Implementation of artificial intelligence could have various benefits for Estonia. In the public sector, it would allow us to increase the user-centeredness of services, improve the process of data analysis, and make the country work more efficiently by achieving the goals of developing the e-government. Artificial intelligence can also play an important role in the digital revolution of the industry and attract new investments and innovation activity to Estonia – developers of technology are searching for a development and test environment that favours artificial intelligence solutions.

More information about the kratts initiative can be found here. All the open source solutions are available here.

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