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Whether we are aware of it or not, Artificial Intelligence is already among us. It is used in factories, to drive cars, help us shopping and help companies target advertisements. AI is used to collect data and analyse data and is set to have ever-increasing influence on our lives. With its strong past in tech-driven industries and superb educational system, Finland now aims to become the world leader in AI by offering a free University course to anyone, anywhere.
The aim of the course, called “The Elements of AI”, is to familiarise not only Finns but people around the world with how AI is already affecting our lives, what it can do and also what it cannot do. The course is a collaboration between the University of Helsinki and Reaktor, a Helsinki-based digital design and engineering company. The Elements of AI is a starter level course which does not require any programming or mathematical skills but rather explains how AI works in general.
In a recent article published at YLE.fi, the University of Helsinki is said to hope to make Finland the most educated country in the world when it comes to AI. Janina Fagerlund, a user interface designer at Reaktor, points out that people may not even know how their lives are already affected by AI every day. One example of everyday encounters with AI are the face recognition programmes tech firms such as Facebook and Google use. According to Fagerlund, AI will have the same kind of revolutionary impact to our world as electricity did just over a hundred years ago.
“We want to show that there’s nothing particularly remarkable about AI, it’s just about different ways of solving problems,” Fagerlund tells Yle.
The course has been online for over a month now, and at the outset 24,000 Finns had enrolled. The course is available in English and can be completed online. When completed, people in Finland can earn 2 ECTS credits through Open University and people outside Finland will attain a LinkedIn certificate.
If you have ever wondered what AI really means, or what kind of impact it might have on our world, this is the course for you. The course starts by introducing the basics of AI then moves on to look at how to solve problems with AI. Next the course shows how AI is used and how it is applied in the real world, after which the topics include machine learning and neural networks. The last section of the course deals with the implications of AI.
The course has attracted people from all walks of life and every age group between 20 and 70 years old. Despite the variation of age and backgrounds, the new students have common motives: “Everyone wants to learn what AI is because they think it will be a big deal in the future. They want to know how AI will affect their lives and how they can make use of it,” Fagerlund sums up for YLE.