Q&A with Chief Data Officer of Estonia

The World Today Published 11 February 2020 Updated 28 September 2020 2 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

The chief data officer of Estonia tells Alan Philps how the country of 1.3 million is becoming a digital republic in which people are happy to share intimate data with their government Estonia claims to have put 99 per cent of its government services online. What are your guiding principles? Our goal is to make government as lean and efficient as possible. We look for problems that we can either solve or automate, and we insist that there must be business value in this automation. We don’t do anything in data science just for the sake of it. One of the aims for this year is to implement 50 AI projects in 25 government agencies. For instance, we are continuing to work in the unemployment agency, where we already use AI to profile people and recommend jobs or training. So, if I am unemployed, a robot will choose a job for me? No – the AI makes a personalized recommendation to an official who takes the decision. So, the job-seeker gets to talk to someone.

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