Last month while travelling in Norway, I had the pleasure of researching Norway and published in Forbes an article on this beautiful country’s advancements in AI. I had the recent pleasure of interviewing NORA.ai CEO, Klas Pettersen to appreciate his personal story as so often we think to be leading in the field of AI, you must come from an AI engineering background, and this is so not accurate. To get AI Right, we need many diverse perspectives; disciplines from theology, sciences ethics, mathematicians, humanities, social sciences, our hard core AI engineers, data scientists, and functional disciplines, finance, legal, HR, sales, marketing etc. With the intelligence world changes rapidly underway, every business function, industry, private or public, AI is transforming business processes, practices, infrastructures – and it’s simply an AI everywhere reality. Travelling and learning about different cultures and meeting talented and diverse AI leaders helps us appreciate what’s possible. It opens our eyes on strategies to create partnerships in new research communities that are doubling down on specific use cases. Why look just in North America, or the UK or Canada, or Asia. Why not look at Norway? We need to collaborate to ensure humanity is leading the future vs AI leading humanity everywhere. Every leader has roots and I am always curious as to what CEO’s leading AI organizations have studied as there is so much wisdom in listening to their stories about how they have advanced their organizations success, and also what lessons have they learned in their journeys so we ensure we all grow a little more. Enjoy learning about Klas Pettersen, his career journey, his passion for his family and wrestling, and what mentorship means to him.
From Quantum Mechanics to AI
Klas Pettersen’s academic journey took an interesting turn from quantum mechanics to AI. After completing his master’s degree in quantum mechanics, Klas went on a backpacking trip where he read a book that inspired him to ask bigger questions about how the brain works. This curiosity led him to pursue a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience with the help of professor Gaute Einevoll. During his research, Klas became fascinated with artificial neural networks and the potential of deep learning. This shift in focus eventually led him to the field of AI.
In 2019, Klas joined NORA.ai as the CEO, a consortium of 16 universities and research institutions in Norway with the vision of advancing AI research, education, and innovation. Under Klas’s leadership, NORA.ai has become a strong international actor in the AI industry, establishing collaborations with renowned institutions around the world. One of the main accomplishments of NORA.ai is the establishment of a National Research School in AI and the development of a national infrastructure for AI. Additionally, NORA.ai has played a key role in fostering collaborations between UK and Norwegian researchers.
Advancements and Future Goals
NORA.ai is currently focusing on developing large language models, particularly in Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages as well as English. The aim is to provide solutions and fine-tuned models to meet the needs of the public sector and industry. NORA.ai is also actively engaged in collaborations to improve diagnostic tools and precision medicine products using AI. The organization is constantly looking for international partners to advance their initiatives and expand their impact.
Views on AI Legislation
Klas acknowledges the importance of AI legislation, such as the EU AI Act, but highlights the need for a balanced approach that doesn’t hinder innovation. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining open research and ensuring that regulations do not impede collaboration and innovation. Klas believes that a framework that treats all foundation models as high-risk could limit the development of low-risk and open-source models in Europe. He encourages an approach that allows for flexibility and supports both innovation and compliance.
Personal Interests and Advice for Young AI Enthusiasts
Outside of his work, Klas is passionate about wrestling and actively participates as a leader in one of Norway’s largest wrestling clubs. He finds joy in seeing young athletes develop self-confidence through their exercises. As for advice for young people pursuing a career in AI, Klas emphasizes the importance of being a doer, actively engaging in programming and learning the techniques. He also stresses the significance of finding a good mentor who can guide and support one’s career growth.
Klas Pettersen’s journey from quantum mechanics to AI exemplifies the diverse backgrounds that contribute to advancements in the field. As the CEO of NORA.ai, Klas has been instrumental in establishing strong collaborations and advancing AI research in Norway. His passion for wrestling serves as a reminder of the importance of pursuing personal interests alongside professional growth. Klas’s advice to young AI enthusiasts to be proactive and seek mentorship highlights the value of continuous learning and guidance in this ever-evolving field.