In September 2020, the Hungarian Government published its National AI strategy, outlining the strategic vision and actions for the development of AI in the period 2020-2030 (Hungary, 2020). The strategy has been released by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and developed by the Artificial Intelligence Coalition. In October 2018, the AI Coalition has been formed upon the initiative of the Ministry as a partnership between governmental institutions, prominent academics and practitioners from leading IT businesses. Made up of more than 320 members1, the AI Coalition released an AI Action Plan in October 2019, and in 2020 it drew up Hungary's AI Strategy for the Hungarian Government.
Hungary’s AI strategy aims to support and boost all relevant sections of the AI value chain from data generation and management, through basic and applied research, to utilisation of the technology and raising awareness of the possibilities inherent in practical AI applications. Through a multi-layered set of goals the strategy aims to:
- Strengthen the foundation pillars of the Hungarian AI ecosystem: data economy, research development and innovation (R&D&I), AI uptake, education and competence development, infrastructure deployment, and regulatory and ethical framework;
- Focus on specific sectors and technology fields with the highest acceleration potential for Hungary: manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, public administration, transportation, logistics and energy;
- Initiate transformative programmes with long term ambitious goals that offer direct benefits to citizens: autonomous systems and self-driving vehicles, health-consciousness in a digital world, climate-driven agriculture, data-wallet and personalised services, AI-supported development of personal competencies, automated administration procedures in Hungarian, and energy networks focused on renewable sources of energy.
With respect to education in AI, Hungary’s national AI strategy has the objective to raise citizen’s awareness on AI and to leverage human competencies in using and developing AI technologies. One the key performance indicators is to reach up to 300 people with a PhD degree involved in an AI research topic and 8,000 citizens receiving adult education. To this purpose, the strategy foresees a wide range of policy initiatives to reform both the education system and competence building tools for the workforce.
Transformations of the educational system to prepare for the digital world take stock and build further on the policy recommendations outlined in the Digital education strategy that was released in October 2016. More closely related to the field of AI, reforms to the education systems highlighted in the AI strategy include policies targeting all education levels and reaching out to both students and teachers:
- Introducing games for improving high-level mathematical and logical skills from an early age and identifying talented children and teenagers;
- Developing AI-related general knowledge, skills and competencies in higher education among the students by offering and promoting AI-specific programmes;
- Establishing PhD programmes in the field of AI and broadening the available collection of AI-related doctoral courses;
- Offering teacher training to prepare teachers in public education with the necessary skills to support students in using and experimenting with AI.
Hungary’s AI strategy equally emphasises the need to raise the awareness and understanding of AI of the population as a whole. To do so, it foresees to raise citizen’s digital and AI-related experiences through:
- The establishment of the AI Challenge: training 100,000 people in the basics of AI using domestically developed online course material. It will also aim to raise the awareness of 1 million people via interactive exhibitions, a website and online professional contents.
Besides, the national AI strategy presents several policies to support lifelong learning and reskilling of the workforce. Among others, the following AI policies are foreseen:
- Expanding the circle of managers who are aware of AI technologies and training them to support the implementation of AI innovations;
- Training experts in priority sectors and the public administration;
- Enhancing high-level mathematical and IT researchers’ competencies for basic and applied research;
- Increasing the capacity development of data engineer competencies.
Finally, it is important to understand which skills will become increasingly important in the future. Hence, to prepare for the future labour market needs and to allow citizens to update their skills and competence portfolio, the Hungarian Government calls for the establishment of:
- Personalised learning methods: Personalised learning support and talent coaching for groups at risk of falling behind in the labour market (see also Section 5.13.2).
From the lab to the market
To foster scientific research in the field of AI, the Hungarian strategy highlights the following policies:
- Establishing a National Laboratory for Autonomous Vehicles: the National Laboratory for Autonomous Systems is a consortium led by the Institute for Computer Science and Control (SZTAKI) with the participation of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and Széchenyi University of Győr. The Laboratory aims to provide efficient and innovative autonomous solutions for road vehicles, aircraft and mobile robots by relying on a wide group of Hungarian experts. Activities focus on research, development, and demonstration of the components and functional design of experimental vehicles, cyber-physical manufacturing and logistics systems. The Laboratory will operate an autonomous vehicle laboratory and collaborate with the ZalaZone autonomous vehicle test track;
- Creating an AI Accelerator Centre: the objective of the centre is to support AI businesses in their start-up and growth stage. The publication of funds for the selected tenders is expected by mid-2021.
While basic and applied research in AI is important, it is equally crucial to provide opportunities to develop high-potential ideas into successful products and services. In terms of policies increasing the innovation potential in AI, Hungary’s strategy foresees the following:
- Establishing an Innovation Centre for Artificial Intelligence: the objective of this centre is to build technology training research and infrastructure marketplaces for the promotion of AI in SMEs. It is also used to disseminate and inform about events and social dialogues and to investigate about training needs on the labour market;
- Developing corporate advisory services based on AI (chatbots): within the framework of the EDIOP 3.2.1-15 Modern Businesses Programme (MBP), led by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK), the development of such advisory services supports businesses in their digital development. The development of the chatbot can be integrated in the planned voice-based AI platform of the government.
To further support innovative efforts in Hungary, the national strategy presents several transformative programmes with long term ambitious goals in the fields of autonomous systems and self-driving vehicles, health-consciousness in a digital world, climate-driven agriculture, data-wallet and personalised services, AI-supported development of personal competencies, automated administration procedures in Hungarian, and energy networks focused on renewable sources of energy.
Self-driving vehicles – autonomous systems
The Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Interior foresee to build the necessary infrastructure and regulatory framework for the operation of autonomous transportation systems. This will be done by equipping single-digit road networks with self-driving infrastructure by 2025 and by harmonising domestic and EU legislative environments and traffic policy regulations.
Health consciousness in a digital world
Various policy actions are foreseen to support the data-based economy in the health care sector. An ongoing policy is focusing on the assessment of activities of businesses engaging in illegal data management, and on deploying enforcement measures to ensure data protection and integrity. In the first half of 2021, Hungarian ministries will launch a campaign to promote the use of healthcare data. This will be complemented with the mapping of digital healthcare applications and the development of rating systems for healthcare data analytics applications. Finally, it is foreseen to adopt a legal framework with regard to the options of secondary use of own or self-collected healthcare data.
Project proposals are in the making, under the lead of the Ministry of Agriculture, to prepare for the impacts of the climate change. In particular, they focus on 1) the development and application of AI-based, optimisation solutions in terms of plant production and stock farming and 2) the implementation of predictive, AI-based analytics methods to improve water, soil and air quality to enhance the efficiency of management.
Data wallet and personalised services
To facilitate the development of a data wallet technology model, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology through the Digital Success Programme is supporting the creation of a software solution to facilitate citizens controlling the use, sale or disclosure of their data by third parties in a one-stop-shop system. In parallel, Hungarian ministries are working on ensuring compliance with ongoing legislation on data protection such as GDPR and on regulating the disclosure of data collected by service providers.
AI-supported development of personal competencies
The aim of this transformative programme is to develop personalised, data-driven, and digitally-assisted ways of learning to fully support individual learning paths. It includes the establishment of an AI-supported career advisory system. To this end, the Ministry of Technology and Innovation supports the creation of a personalised training recommendation service that is tailored to individual life objectives and based on public education, vocational training, tertiary vocational training and adult education offers. For a smooth functioning of the system, ministries will aim to ensure interoperability of file systems. Customised learning paths with dedicated training courses will be set up. This will be facilitated by the establishment of a personal learning assistant that will primarily support citizens at risk of losing employment due to automation.
Automated administrative procedures in Hungarian
The objective of this transformative programme is to support the automation of administrative procedures using AI-based services. This is done through the creation of language processing technologies for the Hungarian language. To this purpose, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Interior are collecting both oral and written training data sets. The National Infocommunications Services Ltd., as part of the Ministry of Interior, is developing a telephone-based customer service for the public administration using AI solutions.
Energy networks focused on renewable sources of energy
The aim of the transformative programme is to enable, with the help of AI, a shift to a future- and climate-proof form of energy use. To support an efficient system integration of the production of renewable energy, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology is planning to upgrade the energy network infrastructure. This includes the development of smart meters, and the implementation of smart-grid technologies. The use of AI is foreseen in the introduction of forecasting/projection procedures and distribution mechanisms.
The above transformative programmes are complemented with sector-specific development goals to increase Hungary’s competitive position in the global value chain. To this purpose, the Hungarian strategy also presents a wide range of policy actions that aim to start in 2021 in the following sector-specific focus areas: manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and public administration.
Finally, innovation efforts are further encouraged by strengthening the organisational culture of experimentation. Purposeful and tailor-made experimentation in AI could be fostered through:
- The creation of a corporate AI experimental and support fund: a fund to support companies in reducing the costs of experimentation and undertaken risks until the "proof of concept" development phase. The fund is expected to be established by end of June 2021.
The Hungarian strategy emphasises the importance of establishing a broad-based and dynamic research ecosystem driven by collaborative efforts between national and international AI developers and researchers. The objective is to create and support at least 15 instances of cooperation in international research projects in technological fields, from which two in defence technologies and five in international AI patents. Among the key technological fields, the strategy identifies image processing, language technology, data anonymisation, and machine-learning that could be applied in priority sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and public administration. Following initiatives are foreseen to expand domestic and international collaboration opportunities in research and development:
- Establishing a National Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MILAB): MILAB, coordinated by the Institute for Computer Science and Control (SZTAKI), aims to promote and finance publications, patents, technology transfer and industrial relations on key topics related to AI. Another important goal is to connect the industry, universities and research institutes operating in the field, and to jointly represent them in market and international projects. The main research areas of MILAB are: the mathematical foundations of AI, deep learning, natural language processing, medical and biological applications; biometric applications, data processing technologies for the protection of personal data, agri-food industry, transport, manufacturing, defence and telecommunication;
- Encouraging industry-led networking in AI research: collaborations between AI researchers and users (e.g., industry, public administration, healthcare) will be fostered through the implementation of collaborative projects, jointly financed research and the creation of an academic AI competence map;
- Launching a central Hungarian AI portal by the AI Coalition in which AI developers can present local case-studies to foster collaboration and awareness.
In order to increase the international attractiveness of the country, the Hungarian Government is preparing a policy to attract major AI players from abroad:
- Attracting international AI research centres to Hungary: the objective of this initiative, mandated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, is to incentivise International research centres and companies to relocate their AI development centres to Hungary.
Finally, the dissemination and uptake of AI is fostered through:
- Establishing an Innovation Award for AI Applications: an event is planned annually to award AI applications per category (across firm size and industry).
Hungary’s national AI strategy aims to ensure a responsible, reliable and human-centred utilisation of AI technologies by means of the following policies:
- Creating an ethical framework: developing an AI code of conduct by the first half of 2021 in collaboration between the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, AI Innovation Hub and the Central Statistical Office;
- Setting up an Artificial Intelligence Regulation and Ethics Knowledge Centre: the aim is to create and coordinate an extensive pool of experts to help resolve legal issues and matters of ethics relating to the regulation of AI and the implementation of the strategy;
- Establishing a regulatory framework for AI: the objective is to amend the current regulatory system to suit AI and to align it to EU regulations;
- Building data management regulation: the objective is to set up regulations for the use and exchange of public and private data and to define rules regarding data monetisation.
As there is no one-size-fits all solution, the Hungarian strategy calls for the development of sector-specific regulatory frameworks, ensuring that the regulatory needs for AI development are adapted to the relevant industry areas.
Hungary’s national AI strategy highlights that one of the core elements to foster the development and adoption of AI are data processing and data analysis. Against this background, there is a crucial need to support the collection of data and its secondary use in both the public and private sector. To this purpose, the Hungarian Government is setting up policy initiatives to develop a solid data infrastructure that enables data availability and encourages data sharing while ensuring necessary data protection of personal data where needed. The Hungarian strategy mentions its objective to support a minimum of 1000 agreements for the secondary use of data. To encourage data collection and use for AI developments, the Hungarian strategy includes:
- Establishing a National Data Assets Agency: the objective of this agency is to coordinate and stimulate the strategic management of the data. It does not perform data processing but aims to encourage and support data utilisation;
- Creating a data market platform: the aim of this platform is to raise awareness of the economic value of commercially viable data, and to encourage its secondary use. Its development will include three phases: 1) creating a marketplace for the transmission of non-personal data of high quality, 2) establishing commercial opportunities for the data assets including personal data and 3) broadening up the platform to all relevant stakeholders and integrating it with international data spaces;
- Setting up a public data portal: the aim of the public data portal is to encourage the use of non-personal data created in the public sector.
By establishing a national Data Assets Agency, complemented with a commercial and public data platform, the Hungarian Government aims to bring the national data ecosystem to its full potential. It aims to ensure that the data market platform and the public data portal are neatly connected and integrated.
In addition, the successful deployment of an AI-enabled economy can only be achieved in a well-developed and cutting-edge infrastructure ecosystem. To this purpose, Hungary’s national AI strategy foresees:
- Enhancing supercomputer capacities: the Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the Governmental Information Technology Development Agency have the objective to increase the High Performance Computing (HPC) capacity to 5 petaflops in Hungary as of 2022;
- Hybrid cloud development for research purposes: the objective of this initiative is to ensure the availability of research hardware and software that is well connected with cloud service providers;
- Establishing data centres with large computing capacities.
AI to address societal challenges
Climate and environment
In order to reach the EU’s long-term climate strategy goals, it is crucial to support efforts to reduce pollutant emissions and to encourage the proliferation of alternative technologies to this purpose. Understanding that the hydrogen economy is one of the foundations of climate protection, the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology financed the construction of a Hungarian-American hydrogen-fuel cell-powered aircraft suitable for passenger transport. This project belongs to the Hungarian energy and climate strategy alongside with AI, Industry 4.0 and 5G technological platforms.
In addition to these initiatives – and as part of its national AI strategy – the Hungarian Government foresees to launch transformative programmes in the field of AI with long term ambitious goals that offer direct benefits to citizens and the environment: climate-driven agriculture, energy grids focused on renewables, and fully autonomous systems.
Concerning the COIVD19 crisis the following initiatives are worth noticing:
- The Hungarian State, together with the European Union, funded a study on COVID-19 pandemic prediction for Hungary; a hybrid machine learning approach. This study presents a hybrid machine learning approach to predict the COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in Hungary, and it suggests that machine learning can be an effective tool to model the outbreak;
- Scientific researchers at the Szeged Biological Research Centre (SZBK) have identified the receptor through which the COVID-19 virus enters into a host cell. The discovery of this receptor has been found using AI algorithms. The outcome of this research constitutes a new milestone in the research towards a vaccine and opens new perspectives in the development of therapies for COVID-19;
- The phone application VírusRadar uses Bluetooth technology to acquire encrypted, anonymised data about users in order to notify individuals that have been previously in touch (at a non-safe distance) with infected ones.
Monitoring and future update
Hungary’s national AI strategy sets goals up to 2030 and outlines a related action plan extending up to 2025. It is important to emphasise, however, that the strategy needs to be regarded as a living document and reviewed at least every two years due to rapid changes in technological developments.
Hungary (2020). Hungary’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2020-2030. Ministry for Innovation and Technology. https://ai-hungary.com/api/v1/companies/15/files/146074/view
As of May 2021. ↑