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National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (Spanish acronym: ENIA)

Pedro Sánchez presents National Artificial Intelligence Strategy with public investment of 600 million euros for period 2021-2023

Wednesday 2 December 2020

The aim of the strategy is to create an environment of trust regarding the development of inclusive, sustainable artificial intelligence (AI) that places people at its heart. The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy "seeks to place our country in line with leading countries in the research and use of reliable artificial intelligence to serve economic and social development, and that serves our economic modernisation", explained Pedro Sánchez.

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoIn addition to the President of the Government, the presentation of the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy was attended by the Third Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño; the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Isabel Celaá, and the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto. The event included speeches by Pilar Manchón, Senior Director of AI Research Strategy at Google; by Rafael Yuste, the neurobiologist behind the BRAIN project in the United States and of the International Brain Initiative; by Inmaculada Martínez, a technological pioneer in artificial intelligence and digitalisation, and by Pablo Rodríguez, researcher in long-term technological developments into disruptive technologies.

AI as vector for economic growth

The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy is component 16 of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience of the Spanish Economy Plan and is structured within a dynamic, flexible and open framework for contributions from companies, citizens, social stakeholders and other public authorities.

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoAI is one of the technologies within the greatest potential for transformation and impact in all areas of productive activity, and is a driver of innovation and an important vector for the creation of skilled jobs. In this regard, Pedro Sánchez highlighted that "the Spanish job market will be transformed through artificial intelligence and the number of jobs will increase". The strategy will be fundamental with a view to incorporating AI as a factor to improve competitiveness and social development and it will do this, moreover, by boosting technological developments that help project the use of the Spanish language in areas of application of AI.

The implementation of this strategy will mobilise a public investment of 600 million euros over the period 2021-2023, in addition to the contribution from the public-private Next Tech fund, and will seek to step up entrepreneurship in enabling digital technologies. A provision of 330 million euros is provided for in the National Budget for 2021 for artificial intelligence and the data economy.

A plan with six strategic pillars

The ENIA has six strategic pillars. Firstly, to boost scientific research, technological development and innovation in artificial intelligence; secondly, to foster digital skills, the development of national talent and the attraction of international talent; thirdly, the development of data platforms and technological infrastructures that provide a support network for AI; fourthly, to integrate AI in the value chains to transform the economic fabric; fifthly, to boost the use of AI in public authorities and in national strategic missions, and finally, the establishment of an ethical and regulatory framework that guarantees the protection of individual and collective rights, with social welfare and sustainability as structuring cornerstones.

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoEach of these six pillars contains a series of measures, up to a total of 30. For example, to boost research into AI; the promotion of new national multidisciplinary technological development centres with a special focus on neuro-technologies, and the creation of support programmes for companies to develop AI solutions and data.

It is also proposed to introduce a greater training offer at universities and in vocational training, and the introduction of the 'SpAIn Talent Hub' Programme. The national Data Office will be set up, along with the figure of the 'Chief Data Officer', the creation of shared data spaces and decentralised repositories, participating in the creation of data repositories at an EU level. The capacities for super-computing will be strengthened and the National Technologies of Language Plan will be pushed through.

In addition, support programmes will be launched for companies in order to incorporate AI in productive processes and value chains and the 'Next Tech Fund' will be launched with public-private venture capital to boost digital entrepreneurship and the growth of companies. A green algorithm programme will be developed.

At a public sector level, an innovation laboratory for new AI services and applications will be introduced - 'GobTechLab' - and AI will be introduced at a public authority level to improve efficiency. Public management will be boosted based on data.

And finally, at an ethical and regulatory level to protect rights, observatories will be set up to evaluate the social impact of algorithms, a national AI quality stamp will be developed and a Digital Rights Charter will be drawn up.

Why the ENIA is necessary

The effective deployment of artificial intelligence is critical to tackle the necessary digital transformation of the economy. In this regard, AI contributed 1.76 billion euros to global GDP in 2018, and it is estimated that its contribution will exceed 14 trillion euros by the year 2030.

Hence, this is a technology on the rise, characterised by its great potential for transformation from a technological, economic, environmental and social perspective, given its penetration in all sectors, and its high capacity for impact, fast growth and contribution to improving competitiveness.

At present, there are industrial sectors with potential room for growth to harness this rollout, such as the industry of materials, transport and mobility, healthcare and the financial sector, among others. In this regard, AI will mean the possibility of improving the efficiency of processes and the provision of tailored services to the public.

The ENIA will allow the preparation of the Spanish productive fabric to be improved with a view to enhancing its competitiveness at a European and international level. Hence, this is a fundamental step in the commitment to the digital transformation of the economy and society through the development of high value added disruptive technologies.

Spain is facing the challenge of the rollout of AI with certain competitive edges in various strategic sectors. Accordingly, Spain already has high performance computer facilities to process huge amounts of data and has excellent R&D+i groups at both a public and a private level.