PRESS RELEASE

Vake to boost the development of Finnish language artificial intelligence

15.5.2019

The Finnish State Development Company Vake Oy launches its first development programme in May 2019 on Finnish language artificial intelligence (AI). The first programme strives to create Finnish language resources (program libraries, ready-to-use language models and training materials) that can be utilised by all parties using Finnish language AI either in adapting equipment or program development. The target is to enable the use of the Finnish language next to the more mainstream languages for AI developers. The project begins with a development programme together with the University of Helsinki centre for digital humanities, FIN-CLARIN consortium, Aalto University, Business Finland and the Technology Industries of Finland.

Voice is a significant user interface in the future. It is estimated that in 2020 - a year from now - over half of all Google searches will be made with voice. The research institute Canalys has estimated that homes will have almost a hundred milloin AI-operated smart speakers by the end of the year. International giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google sell millions of smart speakers annually and both the Russian Yandex as well as the Chinese Alibaba have developed smart speakers for their own language areas.

”Voice-operated equipment and application markets are naturally focused on mainstream languages to cover as wide market potential as possible for their services. Even the current Finnish ambitions aren’t restricted only to our small language area - however, companies need early stage testing and references from their home markets in order to succeed. Moreover, customers will be excluded from these fast emerging services if we ourselves don’t take care of the investments into our own language”, states Development Director Tuomas Teuri from Vake.

The need for Finnish language resources has been identified well in advance. Now several parties have joined forces in a development programme for new service innovation tools. The entire programme will be open so that everyone can obtain and utilise the results. The programme strives not to create a separate solution for Finnish, instead to boost the readiness of the Finnish language in global development surroundings where the actors already are placed. The project focuses this time on Finnish but can also be adapted for Finland Swedish and the Sami languages.

The first phase of the project strives to identify the key operators in the field and chart the companies’ needs for Finnish AI in order for the solutions to answer actual needs. This is followed immediately by an implementation phase beginning in Autumn 2019. In the future, resources would be developed as the operational environment and the Finnish language change.

Vake’s and the cooperators’ project on language resources is naturally aligned with Business Finland’s AI Business programme’s and the business consortium gathered by the Technology Industries of Finland’s vision on creating a hub for small language technologies in Finland. This vision brings together both developer and adapter companies, research institutes and enabling organisations.

To speed up and ensure the adequate cover for the development programme for the Finnish language AI resources, the cooperators wish that companies utilising Finnish language AI would contact the Project Manager Tommi Jauhiainen. It would also be useful to receive a preliminary list of the needs and uses for the language resources that the company has identified, which is why contact via e-mail is preferred.

More information:  

Vake Oy/ Development Director Tuomas Teuri, tel. 040 75 49 507

University of Helsinki, the Language Bank of Finland/ Project Manager Tommi Jauhiainen, tel. 050 415 0 555, e-mail: tommi.jauhiainen@helsinki.fi

Aalto University/ Professor Mikko Kurimo tel. 050 3476221

Business Finland Oy, Expert Aki Parviainen, tel. 050 351 1354 ja Programme Manager Outi Keski-Äijö, tel. 050-557 7663

FIN-CLARIN -University of Helsinki/ Research Director Krister Lindén,tel. 02941 29303

FCAI Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence/ Expert of Business Relations Terhi Kajaste, tel. 050 327 5299

The Technology Industries of Finland, Finnish AI Accelerator/ AI Accelerator Lead Alexander Törnroth, puh. 040 187 7353