NTNU is testing AI tool on behalf of the public sector

NTNU, together with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, will find out how the public sector should deal with the new generative AI tool, Copilot for Microsoft 365, and other similar tools.

Et datategnet illustrasjonsbilde. Bakgrunnen er av pasteller som bølger vannrett, foran ser du tre skjermbilder fra et dataprogram. Verktøylinje på venstre side en liten boks midt på der det står "introducing copilot"
Illustrasjon: Microsoft

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While generative AI tools create efficient ways to work, there are important considerations within privacy and data management that must be considered before using such tools.

Last year, Microsoft launched the artificial intelligence assistant, Copilot for Microsoft 365, which is part of the office suite. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is a tool that combines artificial intelligence (AI) with your data.

The tool is designed to help you perform work tasks in a more creative and efficient manner.

Important principles

Copilot for Microsoft 365 will by its nature collect personal information from the company’s internal systems. NTNU, in collaboration with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s regulatory sandbox for artificial intelligence (in Norwegian only), will conduct a pilot project to test whether Microsoft’s artificial intelligence assistant can be adopted by a large organization in the public sector.

– The generative AI wave provides us with new and efficient ways to work. It is important that we, as a research and educational institution, keep up with the development. At the same time, it is also important to examine what it means to share data across when we use such tools. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for NTNU that we get help from the experts in the Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s sandbox project for this, says IT Director, Håkon Alstad.

The project will look at NTNU’s robustness, areas of use, and data management. The goal is to find out what is required in terms of privacy for NTNU and other public organizations to be able to use tools such as Copilot for Microsoft 365.

– Public organizations are quite special, and we have a lot to take into account when processing cases. Principles such as equal treatment, neutrality, objectivity and good privacy are cornerstones of Norwegian public proceedings. It is important that we take care of this when we explore new digital tools, says project manager Heine Skipenes.

Creating a toolbox to become “Copilot ready”

The project will create a toolbox containing aids for assessing whether an organization is “Copilot ready” enough to adopt a tool such as M365 Copilot (or similar). The toolbox will be available to other public and private actors who want to learn about NTNU’s experiences on the project’s website.

NTNU wants to highlight the importance of including privacy in the process when acquiring ICT tools. The project therefore wants to develop information material on how the public sector can think about operational privacy in early development.

– Before we can adopt a tool such as Copilot for Microsoft 365, there is a lot that needs to be in place. There are many assessments and clarifications that must be made, and we must explore both the opportunities and challenges such a tool presents. This tool can potentially access things like all your files, all emails you have sent and received, and all chats you have had. We must be 100% sure of what this entails, particularly with regard to information security and privacy. Facilitating an open and broad discussion about the topic is important, and therefore we are very pleased to have the Norwegian Data Protection Authority on the team, explains Skipenes.

Great interest from other stakeholders

Microsoft 365, Crayon and Sikt are partners in the project. They are important contributors to the project being able to obtain the broadest possible basis for assessment so that all involved target groups can make good and informed choices for themselves.

Several enterprises have contacted the project about technical questions and assessments. The project is positive about collaboration and finds this instructive.

Invites to an open seminar

NTNU wants to share its findings and experiences. An open seminar will be arranged towards the end of the project, with the opportunity for physical and digital participation. More information about the seminar is available on the project’s website (in Norwegian only).

Do you want to know more? Contact project manager Heine Skipenes or see more information on the project’s website (in Norwegian only).