Croatia to Get First Strategy for Artificial Intelligence Development

Lauren Simmonds

The Croatian Government has finally leaked information about the date of the announcement of Croatia’s national artificial intelligence development strategy, which should have actually been completed by this summer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 2nd of October, 2019, within sixty days, the Republic of Croatia should receive its first national artificial intelligence (AI) development strategy. Politically, this is a necessary document for the government to open the way forward to more than 2.5 billion euros in subsidies for both private and public companies and state administrations, intended solely to encourage the implementation of AI.

With the development of supercomputers (2.7 billion euros), subsidies for AI are the most abundant new source of “free” funding for high-tech development in the EU up until the year 2027.

Vlado Rendulić, a member of the APIS IT Management Board and a member of the Government Plan Strategy Working Group shed more light on dates on Wednesday at HUP’s presentation of the document called ”Artificial Intelligence Potential for Croatia”.

“I can’t speak on behalf of the government, and formally I’m not even a representative of the Ministry of the Economy, but as someone who is aware of the progress and development of this document, I can say that the proposal of the national AI strategy will be completed by the end of November,” Rendulić stated encouragingly.

The time and place of its publication are not accidental. HUP has decided to publish a document on the potential of AI, because the government invited all segments of society except private entrepreneurs to develop the first Croatian AI strategy.

Furthermore, Economy Minister Darko Horvat announced that the strategy would be completed by the middle of this year, and although the deadline was broken, employers were not given information on how and at what pace it was being worked on. Moreover, the presentation at HUP announced the arrival of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Mario Antonić, but Vlado Rendulić appeared, who has, among other things, extensive experience in crisis management.

Rendulić added that the Croatian Government is following an EU recommendation to develop a plan for investment and concrete actions on AI. When the initial document is complete, he argues, a discussion will also open with the private sector. HUP are very skeptical, and there are many reasons for that. The government only joined the Union’s AI partnership back in July as one of the last three members to show any interest, followed by sharp criticism.

And then, just a week ago, IMD announced that Croatia had fallen by seven places on the global digital competitiveness ranking, and is now in an unimpressive 51st place. In the introduction of HUP’s AI document, Boris Drilo, a member of HT’s Technology Board and president of the HUP-ICT Association, stated that the digital economy accounted for 5 percent of Croatia’s GDP three years ago (with 18 billion kuna), and could grow to 16 percent of GDP (80 billion kuna) by 2025, according to McKinsey. But it depends on productivity growth, ie, the development of artificial intelligence and Croatia actually showing interest and taking it seriously.

“With advanced digital technologies, it will be possible to automate up to 52 percent of all working hours in Croatia,” Drilo said.

Employers are convinced that this is one example of why they are stalling with the AI ​​strategy. Milan Račić, co-founder and director of development for the Croatian robotics startup Gideon Brothers, says there are topics in AI that Croatia’s typically unpopular politicians don’t like.

“We have to be honest and tell citizens that because of AI, some jobs will be gone, they need to be prepared for it, they should be offered a new perspective, and not be silent about it! I think the development of AI is greater than the next generation of communications, because it goes into all operations and all processes,” Račić concluded.

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