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AI: How will Bürokratt make life easier for entrepreneurs in Estonia? - Interview with Ott Velsberg

The recent boom of Artificial Intelligence among the general public is only a consequence of a long term work carried out by various initiatives, whether private or public, with the aim of obtaining a tool capable of simplifying the life of entrepreneurs, employees, customers and citizens in general. Estonia, a pioneer in digitalisation, could not miss the emergence of AI and has for several years been developing tools that could improve interactions between the State and citizens.


Ott Velsberg, Government Chief Data Officer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Estonia, has been assigned this task. Mr Vesberg's role, as a data expert, is to oversee strategic coordination and planning of the data ecosystem in the government together with various projects in domains such as AI, citizen-centric data governance, data governance, privacy enhancing technologies and open data.He is also leading government AI strategy implementation and is particularly involved in the development of Bürokratt, the Estonian state's virtual assistant.

The term Kratt is derived from Estonian mythology, where it was used to refer to a magical creature, which was born from a pact with the devil and responded to its master's every command. As the Kratt became dangerous for its owner when it was not given any tasks, the creature has now become a metaphor for Artificial Intelligence, a servant to be wary of. The play on words with 'bureaucrat' was therefore quite obvious. Bürokratt is presented as a chatbot comparable to other virtual assistants that can be found on many sites, guiding you in your navigation and answering your questions. Bürokratt's ambition is to free citizens from the burden of administrative procedures such as permit applications or identity document renewals by offering an easy-to-use and intuitive platform.

But then, how is Bürokratt comparable to ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence that is all over the news at the moment? Bürokratt's domain of competence, in the way it is developed by Mr Velsberg's team, is limited to that of the public services that are willing to adopt it. In other words, Bürokratt will not answer your questions based on what it finds on the internet, as ChatGPT does at present, but rather it will use the resources that the services employing it will have provided to it, and it will also have, to a degree that the services in question will have defined, the power to fill in administrative documents thanks to the elements it obtains during its discussion with the citizen. Bürokratt does not create content to your requirements, but uses the information you provide to speed up the processing of the most redundant tasks (e.g. filling in forms and transmitting files).

To find out more about the features and benefits of Bürokratt, especially for the business world, we contacted Ott Velsberg, who agreed to answer our questions.

Ott Velsberg

What are the current areas of application and use of Bürokratt, and how can these evolve in the future?

Bürokratt has evolved into a popular chatbot utilized by various government agencies, including Statistics Estonia, Police and Border Control, and Viimsi municipality. Currently, Bürokratt's primary function is to alleviate administrative burdens and address frequently asked questions. However, there is an increasing demand for Bürokratt to offer more extensive services and to utilise them.

The future of Bürokratt looks promising as it aims to provide people with a unified point of contact to interact with the government and obtain all necessary information. Bürokratt's potential to streamline communication with the government and enhance accessibility to information makes it an indispensable tool for the future of public services. We are working on enabling voice-based interaction, providing multi-language support together with machine translation and even working on sign-language recognition.

In concrete terms, if someone decides today to start a business in Estonia, how can Bürokratt help them do that?

While Bürokratt is already being used by various government agencies, such as Statistics Estonia, Police and Border Control, and Viimsi municipality, the Centre of Registers and Information Systems (RIK) is currently in the process of implementing Bürokratt. RIK is responsible for developing and maintaining e-Financials portal and services - one of the core services for businesses. Once RIK has implemented Bürokratt, Bürokratt could be able to provide significant assistance to companies, such as facilitating the process of starting a new company and assisting with yearly auditing requirements. In addition, besides implementation at RIK, Bürokratt has the potential to notify companies of potential benefits they may be eligible for, notifying of potential new market opportunities, helping with taxation and more. Overall, making the entire process more efficient and streamlined. Overall, the implementation of Bürokratt by the government holds great promise for the future of public services, as it will enhance the accessibility and convenience of government services for businesses.

Example of Bürokratt's interface

Have you anticipated or seen any other needs among entrepreneurs in Estonia that the government could address via AI?

Bürokratt has tremendous potential in the realm of business-related services. They can provide companies with valuable recommendations on salary gaps, business opportunities, and new markets to explore, among other services. For instance, Bürokratt could assist companies in starting a new business by guiding them through the process and offering helpful tips and resources. It could also help with taxation-related inquiries and provide guidance on how to navigate complex tax laws and regulations. Overall, the use of Bürokratt in the business world can significantly enhance the efficiency and productivity of companies by offering valuable support and resources. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more sophisticated solutions that will provide an even broader range of services to companies of all sizes.

You've already mentioned in interviews that Estonia is not the only country working on a project like this. Are you collaborating with other countries to develop Bürokratt? What form does this collaboration take?

Collaboration and knowledge-sharing among countries is crucial for the development and advancement of public services, especially in the realm of virtual assistants. We have been actively engaging in discussions with various countries to share best practices and explore opportunities for technology transfer and to create an interoperable network of virtual assistants.

For instance, we have been in talks with Finland regarding their virtual assistant AuroraAI and Belgium on adoption of Bürokratt with focus on the potential for providing public services across borders, which would greatly enhance accessibility and convenience for citizens. Through these discussions, we aim to identify areas of common interest and explore how our technologies could be adapted and re-used in other countries. Ultimately, our goal is to promote innovation and collaboration in the public sector, and to work towards a future where citizens across the globe have access to high-quality public services.

Have you been contacted by companies or governments to develop "their version” of Bürokratt?

The popularity of Bürokratt is not limited to government agencies alone. Many companies are also showing interest in implementing Bürokratt in their operations, with some already well on their way to doing so. The widespread adoption of Bürokratt in the private sector is not surprising, given that the solution is freely available as open source software. Companies can easily leverage Bürokratt's capabilities to streamline administrative tasks, reduce costs, and improve overall efficiency. As the use of Bürokratt continues to grow across various sectors, we can expect to see more organizations benefiting from its many advantages.

Considering the polemics and concerns that are emerging about the democratisation of AI, do you consider Burokratt as a safe technology?

We place a high emphasis on ensuring that Bürokratt is a safe and secure technology for our users. Privacy, trust, and cybersecurity are critical components of our development process, and we take great care to ensure that our solutions adhere to the highest standards of security. To this end, we implement rigorous security measures and protocols throughout the entire development cycle, from design to deployment. We continuously monitor and assess potential security risks, and work to promptly address any vulnerabilities that may arise. Our commitment to privacy and security is reflected in the high levels of trust that our users place in Bürokratt. We recognize the critical importance of maintaining this trust, and will continue to prioritise security as a core component of our technology development.

Arthur Fertier

Intern at CAdFE



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