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Artificial Intelligence improves the Swedish Tax Agency's customer service

Monday, April 29, 2019

During this year's edition of the International Science Festival, AI Innovation of Sweden was on location for one of the key programme points: 'Artificial intelligence will soon be part of your everyday life'. It is a seminar intended for a general audience with interested in technology at the festival in the Nordstan district of Gothenburg.

AI Innovation and the Swedish Tax Agency discussed the development of AI and how you already encounter or will encounter the new technology in your everyday life as a private person.

The Swedish Tax Agency is one of the public authorities that has begun to launch pilots to facilitate customer service and reception with the help of AI. Göran Sundin, digital strategist at the Swedish Tax Agency, presented the Swedish Tax Agency's digital employee, the chatbot 'Skatti', who helps answer people's questions about their tax returns. Skatti handles around 15,000 chats per months hand has answered approximately 200,000 queries thus far with individual treatment of the customers.

Viktoria Josefsson, AI strategist at the Swedish Tax Agency, explained more about how the Swedish Tax Agency foresees the role of AI in the future.

What are your expectations for Skatti going forward?
'We work consistently to train Skatti in new areas so that they can answer more questions. Eventually, we hope to train Skatti in several languages and to test speech as a complement to the text chat.  Some other interesting areas to investigate include chat while logged in and the possibility of escalating to human chat.

With Skatti, we can make our service more personal and more efficient. Skatti also works essentially round the clock, which makes us more accessible.'

What does the Swedish Tax Agency's foresee for future possibilities for the use artificial intelligence?
'We want to use AI partly to make it easier for our customers to get into touch with us, and we also want to use AI to actually make it difficult for people to avoid their fiscal duties and to fight crime. To put it simply, we want to secure tax money so that we can finance our general welfare. That is our mission.

One of AI's move important contributions is to create conditions to do more of what requires human intelligence. For us, it's about reinforcing human competence with AI. It's man and machine in cooperation.'

The ethical perspective is important
'We are also testing various AI technologies with Skatti and text analysis, etc., so we also work actively with AI from an ethical perspective. The Swedish Tax Agency enjoys high credibility with the general public and we strive to maintain it. And citizens and enterprisers alike should feel safe that the Swedish Tax Agency handles information and artificial intelligence the right way.'

Cooperation is necessary for success
'Our mission as a public authority requires that we cooperate with other authorities in order to handle the possibilities of digitalisation. And innovative development requires cooperation, so we have to have a presence in situations where we can meet other participants in the community, including the private sector and academia. That's why we have participated in two such initiatives: AI Innovation of Sweden and AI Sustainability Center, where we focus on the ethical aspects of AI.

The idea is that we can learn more about the technology, see and test new possibilities and learn lessons from what other have done. Of course, we will also share our experience and knowledge of the field. Hopefully, we will also be able to share our data to the extent that is possible.'