Is Serbia able to jump on a speeding AI ‘train’?

What are the chances that Serbia will join the rapidly developing AI trends and this time not be late like it was with jumping on the 4th industrial revolution ‘wagon’?

“The awareness that the time of artificial intelligence is upon us and that it is not just another new technological fib is present in Serbia. Will we manage to “seize the moment”, now at the very start of AI development when everyone is more or less in the same position, or will we again miss ‘the train’ that leads to a better future?” Aleksandar Radivojević, a PhD student in economic sciences and programme manager of the Foundation for Development of Economic Science (FRAN), says.

Applications of artificial intelligence in Serbia

In the last issue of the Quarterly Monitor, Radivojević writes about the issue of the application of artificial intelligence in Serbia.

“This is our opportunity. Not because we are one of the few countries that have an official strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, but because we are at the very beginning of AI development. We have the infrastructure to implement it and now is the chance to do it, because, for the first time ever, we are not lagging behind or are being late to ‘the party’. Considering that in the 1990s and early 2000s, we missed out on certain technological changes and advancements, we are now starting from scratch and we have a huge opportunity ahead of us. The only question is whether we are ready to take advantage of it. I think that this technology will in fact define some of our future and I think that we have a great chance to catch up a little bit with developed countries in terms of AI use,” Radivojević adds.

The opportunity is huge

It has been estimated that in Serbia alone, the application of artificial intelligence will make 70,000 jobs redundant, while another 400,000 jobs will change significantly as a result of AI use. All in all, about 17% of the total registered employees are more or less at the mercy of AI.

“Yes, the domestic economy will be affected by AI, especially small and medium-sized enterprises that will have to struggle with the adoption of AI tools. We have to be ready to implement everything we can immediately because we should not expect any significant state investments, nor hope that we will be able to produce AI applications. That is done by the big global players and the implementation is up to us,” points out Radivojević.

Ai should not be viewed with fear or pessimism, because it has been present in Serbia for several years. We just did not recognize it as such because there was no “hype” around it.

“The good thing about artificial intelligence is that this is a technology that will be easier to apply and more easily absorbed by the domestic economy. We have seen that, for example, Raiffeisen Bank has had AI-based customer support for three or four years now. Large companies in Serbia, like Nelt, are ready for it, they are aware of it and they know that they will have to apply it if they want to keep up with the competition,” Radivojević adds.

“The negative thing about our economy is that we are not essentially an innovative economy. True, the Serbian IT sector has been constantly growing, but these are mainly service jobs for foreigners, i.e. little is made for local use. We must work quickly, first of all, to inform and educate businesses about what AI is and how they can use it now. The state authorities and the Chamber of Commerce should play a role in this, by organizing presentations and lectures at the Institute for Artificial Intelligence first for professors and managers, and subsequently for all interested parties. They can run media campaigns that don’t cost that much nor do they require any special resources,” Radivojević concludes.

(Biznis i Finansije, 03.01.2024)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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