The Research Council of Norway (RCN) has formed an advisory board to make the process of distributing the AI money fair. This board, consisting of experts in the field with various backgrounds, initially received positive feedback about its diversity. Upon further reflection, it became evident that the group, including Tanja Storsul, Arnoldo Frigessi, Cathrine Pihl Lyngstad, Eirik Andreassen, Ieva Martinkenaite, Inga Strümke, Jill W. Rettberg, John Krogstie, Klas Pettersen, Olav Lysne, Petter Bae Brandtzæg, Signe Riemer-Sørensen, and Tobias Mahler, does not include any people of color.

Senior Policy Advisor at NORA, Alex Moltzau, was the first to raise the diversity issue after receiving tips on this subject on his blog.

“I initially believed that the official process of distributing government funding was well-executed. However, I realized that some aspects could have been better thought out,” he explains to MediaFutures.

Alex Moltzau shares his perspective as an independent observer and not as a representative of NORA. While he acknowledged the gender balance on the board, he stressed that diversity should encompass various aspects beyond gender when assembling a crucial group of experts.

“Diversity is often overlooked as a topic in Norway. There are various individuals who may not feel included, and as a governmental agency, it’s crucial to be self-critical about this,” he continues.

Moltzau is calling for the addition of one or more members to the Advisory Expert Group.

“As it was just announced, is it not possible to add members to the Advisory Expert Group? It may or may not be possible. I am not sure, but this should be handled or discussed,” he writes on his blog.

Like Moltzau, MediaFutures also raises concerns about the lack of diversity on the advisory board. Center leader Christoph Trattner takes it a step further by questioning why there is such underrepresentation of the Norwegian industry in this expert committee. He wonders if there is no significant AI research being conducted at the industry level in Norway.

Three years ago, Moltzau started writing an article per day on the development of AI in the country, resulting in over 500 articles. After the last article was published, he was hired to work for NORA, one of our MediaFutures partners. The CEO of NORA, Klas Pettersen, is also a member of the advisory board.

Moltzau’s blog is now filled with over 500 articles on the subject, and he has no intention of stopping. He has gained insight into national strategies and technological innovation, believing that there is potential to do even more.

“Norway is really good in the maritime sector, health and energy. We have good collaboration between the universities and interesting tech companies. The social and humanities fields are especially strong in Bergen. That is one think to think about,” he says.

If we are to invest more in AI in Norway, we need to invest not only in technical capabilities but also consider the social aspects.

“Similar to what we saw in wind energy. If you dont take social aspects in consideration, you really have failed. This is something that needs to be taken into account when moving forward with AI in Norway,” Moltzau emphasizes.

In this first phase of the distributon process, everyone can submit ideas on how to distribute the AI funding. After the submission deadline on November 9th, the board will formulate a statement based on the submissions received. According to Moltzau, the diversity of the board will directly reflect the selection bias of the submissions.

“It is a significant question of who gets to influence the funding structure, what they like to hear and what they don’t. There is still time to consider adding another member, perhaps?” he suggests.