In December 2020, the Council of Ministers adopted the Polish national AI strategy, entitled Policy for the development of artificial intelligence in Poland from 2020 (Poland, 2020). The progress and milestones in developing the national AI strategy were highlighted in a roadmap released by the Ministry of Digital Affairs.
It is focused on actions on society, education, science, business, public affairs and international relations under the strategic mission of protecting human dignity of people and supporting condition of fair competition in global rivalry. Poland implements the Trustworthy AI ethical framework and launches mechanism of flourishing polish ecosystem of AI in ethical, legal, technical-operational and international dimensions.
In particular, the Polish strategy is providing strategic guidance and policy initiatives to develop a holistic AI ecosystem with the aim of meeting the following objectives:
- Reforming the educational system and providing lifelong learning opportunities in AI-related fields;
- Encouraging growth and innovation of AI companies through dedicated support in AI research, including the provision of sufficient financial resources;
- Increasing national and international partnerships in AI;
- Creating a data ecosystem with trustworthy and high-quality data and increased data exchange mechanisms;
- Reinforcing the digital infrastructure, regulatory framework and test environments to foster the development of AI innovations.
In terms of funding, the Polish strategy presents the main public programmes supporting the development of innovation and innovative enterprises, which also enable financing projects related to the development and implementation of AI-based solutions.
Poland established a governance centre for the national AI strategy, located at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister and under the chair of the Minister of Digital Affairs and the Council of Ministers Committee for Digital Affairs. The centre includes the Task Force on AI Policy enforcement, the Scientific Council for AI, the AI Observatory for the Labour Market, the Observatory of international AI Policy, as well as the Legal Task Force for changing regulations.
Educating the population to gain awareness of the benefits of AI and to acquire the necessary competencies and skills to develop AI applications is an essential element to prepare for the transformations and challenges that AI will bring along. To this purpose, the Polish Government is setting up a range of policy initiatives to reform the educational system. To foster AI and digital competencies of students in preschool, primary and secondary education, the Polish Government proposes to increase courses in IT, to create traineeship programmes in AI in various disciplines, to develop programming and coding courses (such as R and Python) and to train students in data processing. Winter and summer schools in the field of AI are also considered for younger students to prepare them with basic knowledge in AI. The revision of children’s’ and students’ curricula should not only focus on acquiring technical skills but should equally target soft skills such as critical thinking, empathy and interpersonal skills.
In terms of higher education, the Polish strategy foresees the development of Master programmes in AI with modular courses to prepare students to particular key sectors such as healthcare and logistics. An Academy of Digital Applications will be set up to develop courses in AI, machine learning and cybersecurity at university level and will target around 1000 students. This initiative will be complemented with the ‘Algorithm and Programming’ championships that challenges above-average students of higher education to solve complex algorithmic and programming problems. Finally, the Polish Academy of Sciences has established a Doctoral School on Information Technology and Biomedicine providing PhD scholarships in AI related fields. To facilitate the transition of PhDs to the labour market, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education is providing grants to doctoral students to be employed by an entrepreneur while he/she is still conducting its basic research at the university.
Besides policy initiatives to support formal education in AI, the Polish Government is aiming to raise the awareness of AI to the citizens in general and to foster a culture of lifelong learning for the workforce in particular. Raising the public awareness will be encouraged among others through the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the creation of an online platform providing an overview of the educational offerings in AI. Entrepreneurs will be informed about the available competence programmes for lifelong learning trainings in AI. Finally, the upgrade of AI competencies will also be encouraged in the public administration.
From the lab to the market
To foster basic and applied research in AI, the Polish Government will set up a Virtual Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (VIR), in collaboration with businesses, academia and non-governmental organisations. The VIR for AI will support the Council of Ministers Committee for Digital Affairs in coordinating research challenges of the Polish AI Strategy. The NASK Public Research Institute will take up this role as a Centre for CyberSecAI. This institute is primarily focused on monitoring, testing and responding to threats on AI systems and on standardising and certifying cyber security procedures for AI systems. Furthermore, research and innovation in AI will be encouraged through a wide range of funding mechanisms, supported by funding programmes of the Polish Development Fund (PFR), the Digital Poland Project Centre (POPC), the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR) and the Polish National Science Centre (NCN). It includes funding instruments such as public procurement (with the objective to earmark at least 10% of budgets of governmental entities to AI) and other dedicated funding in the field of AI. In addition, the Council of Ministers Committee for Digital Affairs will set up guaranteed credit and loan programmes to foster AI developments in Polish industries. These instruments could be complemented with European funding schemes (e.g. Horizon2020, Horizon Europe and Digital Europe), venture capital and crowdfunding initiatives. The Polish strategy identifies the following priority sectors with the highest potential to benefit from AI applications: industry, healthcare, transport and logistics, agriculture, energy, public administration, trade and marketing, construction and cybersecurity.
With respect to the public sector, the Polish strategy highlights the need to further develop support programmes such as GovTech Polska to increase the implementation of AI in the public administration.
To foster the competitiveness of the Polish industry and to strengthen the research competencies of the scientific community, the Polish strategy proposes various policy initiatives to encourage a culture of collaborations in AI developments. The Future Industry Platform, the Virtual Research Institute and the GovTech programme have recently been created to respond to the traditional lack of cooperation. The objective of these programmes is to create synergies across the research and industry community and to serve as a platform for sharing expertise and partnership opportunities. The development of a collaborative AI ecosystem will be further encouraged through Digital Innovation Hubs which aims at fostering the dialogue between the public administration, the industry and scientific community. Lastly, AI Challenges Platforms similar to kaglle.com will be set up to foster collaborative research and developments of AI applications.
In addition, an Innovation Map has been established to monitor the scale and deployment of newly applied technologies in local government, scientific research centres and public administration. The data registry contains innovations based on new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI. The map is a collection of good practices that can be a source of inspiration for other economic players and potentially lead to research collaborations.
In addition, Poland takes part in the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), an international initiative to spur a responsible development and use of AI in full respect of human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth. The GPAI collaborates with international partners and organisations to bring together experts from industry, civil society, governments and the academic world. This initiative is stirred by a secretariat, hosted by the OECD in Paris, and it accounts for two Centres of Expertise in Montreal and in Paris.
In order to create a trustworthy and sustainable environment for the development of AI, the Polish Government will set up a range of observatories and chairs to tackle ethical and legal issues. An AI Observatory for the Labour Market will be established to analyse the impact of AI on the labour market and to propose legislative and regulatory reforms for social policies. An Observatory of international AI policy and Digital Transformation will be formed to monitor European and international policies and regulations. Its task will be to coordinate and formulate recommendations for international initiatives.
As part of the Virtual Research Institute for AI, a Department of Ethics and Law will be set up to analyse the challenges related to law and ethics in AI and to come up with recommendation for legislative reforms and ethical guidelines. The Council of Ministers Committee for Digital Affairs will be entitled to set up a legal task force to analyse and formulate legal initiatives.
The Polish Government will support mutual recognition of interoperability standards and certification or compliance procedures of trustworthy AI. The priority of this policy will be securing trade secrets.
Recognising that data is an essential enabler for the development of AI solutions, the Polish Government is setting up data policies to ensure the availability of high-quality data and to improve interoperability and data sharing. To this purpose, the strategy foresees to further extent the open data platform containing open data collections of the public administration. In the same vein, virtual data warehouses will be created in which companies can share their industrial data in trustworthy and cyber secured data spaces. These warehouses will act as API interfaces with transparent interoperability rules and clear data protection regulations to foster cooperations across companies in decentralised networks of like-minded members. The government will also investigate the use of data trusts. Overall, the governments’ objective will be to incentivise public institutions and businesses towards data collection and data sharing. To do so, the Ministry of Digital Affairs will create an inventory of available data sources, which could be classified by sector (e.g. medical, energy, industrial, agricultural or transport). To facilitate data analyses, the Polish Government intends to invest in cutting-edge digital and telecommunication infrastructure, such as high computer performance centres and increased connectivity through 5G networks.
AI to address societal challenges
Climate and environment
As a part of the National Recovery Fund, Poland plans to invest in AI initiatives, which support the aims of the European Green Deal. It focuses on the convergence of energy sources, shifting factories to circular production, making green and smart buildings and infrastructure, reducing emissions of transportation, and launching the Space, Earth and Seas Observatories for climate change. The aim is also to make development more sustainable in cooperation with local governments.
Global trends and threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are significantly accelerating the digitalisation of many areas of society. In this respect, it is crucial to take advantage of all the opportunities and benefits associated with the development of AI, and at the same foster the creation of regulations and laws on the operation of robots and self-learning devices for a better health environment.
Poland participates in the development of AI-based solutions to fight the COVID-19. The polish website for govTech initiative, the GovTech Polska, presents the output attained by Polish teams in the context of the #EUvsVirus hackathon. Specifically, the results relate to:
- Analysing SARS-CoV-2 mutations in order to frame stochastic models and employing machine learning to predict the future genome modifications. This project (COVID-19 Genomics) can increase the chance of successful vaccines;
- Identifying fake news with a community-driven platform, Dubio, which employs machine learning algorithms to detect identifying suspicious content. Poland in this case collaborated in a team from Belgium and Germany, and from other non-EU countries (USA, Canada, UK, Israel, Venezuela);
- The Polish Press Agency (PAP) and GovTech Polska have decided to offer an open source code to fight disinformation. This tool, FakeHunter, which is AI-based and can verify fake information almost immediately.
Poland (2020). Policy for the Development of Artificial Intelligence in Poland from 2020. Council of Ministers. https://monitorpolski.gov.pl/M2021000002301.pdf