Estonia welcomes the AI challenge

Estonia has joined the Finnish-led initiative to educate at least one per cent of the population about artificial intelligence; Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) has brought one of the most popular free online courses in the world – “The Elements of AI” – to Estonia.

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more important in our lives every year, and everyone can now take advantage of it. Estonia has been a good example of a country excelling in digital transformation. Furthermore, it has surely inspired many others to begin their digital journey. After saying all that, we cannot rest on our laurels – artificial intelligence has come to stay. But what do we really know about it and how can we make it work for us? That’s what the international “Elements of AI” online course aims to teach us.

TalTech has brought one of the most popular online courses – “The Elements of AI” – to Estonia. It was developed in 2018 by the University of Helsinki and Reaktor OY by university professors, data scientists and designers with the purpose to help better understand artificial intelligence and its social role. As it happens, “The Elements of AI” is already the most popular computer science course in the world, according to Class Central, a free online course aggregator, and surpasses the online courses of educational superstars such as Stanford, Harvard and MIT.

A high-quality course made for everyone

When the course was first launched in spring 2018, Finland had a modest goal to educate at least one per cent of its population with the basic knowledge, philosophy and skills in AI. This goal was achieved in four months. Since then, the course has attracted more than 220,000 students from 110 different countries. About 25 per cent of the attendees are older than 45 and about 40 per cent are women.

Until now, the online course could be taken in English, Finnish and Swedish languages. As of November 2019, “The Elements of AI” course will also be provided in Estonian by TalTech.

TalTech’s campus in Tallinn (TalTech).

It does not matter how old you are, what is your educational background or what skills you possess – the course is made for everyone. It is perfect for picking up beginner level information on artificial intelligence as no prior programming or technological knowledge is needed.

The course consists of six topics and 25 exercises and covers several critical features of advanced AI technologies, such as neutral networks, machine learning and implications for the future. An added attraction is that students can complete the course at their own pace, so they can study alongside their work.

The goal for Estonia

Our goal is to follow the example of our neighbour, Finland, in the promise of teaching the basics and philosophy of AI through this free online course to one per cent of the Estonian population. To support this goal, TalTech has created an initiative called #AIväljakutse – #AIchallenge to invite partners from all sectors take a pledge to support their employees in learning about artificial intelligence through “The Elements of AI” online course. So far around 30 partners have joined the AI challenge and others interested in the topic are encouraged to join the pledge.

The university invites everyone to learn about what AI really is (and isn’t), how AI will develop over the coming years, and if and how it will affect the nature of work and your everyday life.

And if you happen to be a student in Estonia, you can get two ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) after finishing the course.

Cover: A screenshot of the “The Elements of AI” online course chapters. Courtesy of the University of Helsinki.

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