Estonia is Developing a Voice Assistant for Government Services
Estonia wants to build a public service voice assistant powered by a network of artificial intelligence applications, according to an outline published this week. The network, called #KrattAI, would provide voice-based access to government services a part of the country’s larger AI strategy.
Virtual Bureaucrat Assistant
The report begins by painting a scene where a woman asks her virtual assistant about any notices and is told that she should update her passport before an upcoming international trip. She agrees and is connected to the relevant bot, authenticates her ID, and arranges for her new passport to be sent to her, all before finishing her cup of coffee.
That kind of quick and easy service is what #KrattAI would do for all kinds of public services, according to the report. Authored by the chief information, data, and technology officer of the country, the report lays out some of the services the AI could perform and why a voice assistant networked to several AI bots is the best way to set up the system. The voice assistant would ideally be able to provide any information or carry out any service that someone might now arrange by phone.
“The concept of #KrattAI would allow people to get their government deeds done from any device and any majorly used virtual assistant in the future,” the paper states. “Voice is and will be the most natural and even intuitive way to use any service for almost any people.”
#KrattAI is named for the mythical Estonian Kratt, a creature of hay or tools that comes to life through magic or a deal with a demon to perform chores for its master. The stories about Kratts also warn of their potential danger if they are not handled properly. The combination of useful and potentially problematic is why Kratt is also the general Estonian term for AI and why regulations around it are called Kratt Law. Estonia has jumped ahead of most other governments when it comes to digital technology. The e-Estonia model integrates digital tools into voting, education, banking, and other aspects of government services. The country is more than halfway to its goal of applying AI to 50 use cases by 2021 and plans to invest a minimum of €10 million by 2022 in AI.
#KrattAI may be trickier to complete than other projects, however. Estonia wants the voice assistant to be universally accessible across every kind of operating system and smart device owned by its citizens and it wants one that has no trouble speaking and understanding Estonian. Those are technical challenges it will need to overcome. There are also ongoing questions about digital privacy and data security to be resolved. That’s a debate faced by tech companies and governments worldwide.