4 A vision for Finland in the age of artificial intelligence in 2025

The Artificial Intelligence Programme launched in May 2017 marked the start of the preparations for the age of artificial intelligence in Finland. The programme has been intensive and as described in the sections above, a great deal has been achieved during the past two years. The extensive network of experts, influential figures, entrepreneurs and organisations can take most of the credit for this. In addition to the work carried out by the network, a large number of other parties have also engaged in discussions, contributed to the AI knowledge base, expanded the AI vision, taken concrete action and launched pilot projects. The enthusiasm spurred by artificial intelligence has given rise to a real movement in Finland.

The first steps in the Artificial Intelligence Programme were taken between May and October 2017 when we studied artificial intelligence as a phenomenon, its potential and the challenges arising from it, set the objectives for the work and laid out the first measures for the programme. This was the first stage in the national artificial intelligence endeavour. In the period between October 2017 and today, we have launched a broad range of different measures and made every effort to learn from our past work and the work done by others. This was the second stage in the national artificial intelligence endeavour. The current Artificial Intelligence Programme will be concluded at the end of the term of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government in spring 2019 but it is essential that the work now in progress will continue and new measures are launched so that we can take Finland further on the path towards the age of artificial intelligence. This is the third stage in the artificial intelligence endeavour and ensuring that it will become a reality will be the task of the next Government and the network involved in the programme work. We must preserve the information that has already been created, keep the contacts that have been established and ensure that the movement will not lose any of its dynamism.

We have been lucky in terms of the timing of the project. If the Artificial Intelligence Programme had been launched earlier, we may not have known enough about the potential of AI or possessed the necessary enthusiasm. If we had started later, we would have found ourselves in the group of countries that have started to see the opportunities AI provides more recently. Now we are at the forefront and we have the possibility to make use of our position and the dynamics created by the movement in the way we want.

The steering group of the Artificial Intelligence Programme has produced a vision of Finland in the age of artificial intelligence in 2025, a vision of a country that is competitive and able to attract talent and has the most relevantly educated population consisting of well-informed and independent citizens.

Finland, a competitive country that is able to attract talent

In 2025, Finland can be exceptionally competitive and exceptionally well placed to attract talent. This will bring economic wellbeing to all of us.

Artificial intelligence is extensively used in all sectors to enhance the core competitiveness of companies. Artificial intelligence has helped to create easy-to-use and correctly timed services, made business operations more effective and efficient, and, above all, provided a basis for new operating practices and business models.

This has allowed Finland’s basic manufacturing industries to find new opportunities for growth, especially in the rapidly changing B2B service markets as the inputs into new AI methods requiring less teaching material have produced results. Strong new B2C business ecosystems have also arisen in Finland because consumers increasingly prefer services supporting human-centric use of personal data to the offerings of global internet giants.

Finnish companies are already interested in artificial intelligence and this has produced results by the year 2025. Companies have enhanced their expertise levels in all areas of operations and every leader understands what AI means for their own business. Companies of all sizes have invested in their digital capabilities and are testing services and operating practices enabled by the new technology. Companies are collecting their own data but they have also built operating practices for use of company-to-company data.

In 2025, in the age of artificial intelligence, Finland is a trusted and safe digital economy pioneer. A balance between the interests of individuals, companies and society has been found in the use of the new technology, which also means that AI is used in an innovative and ethically sustainable manner. An advanced regulatory environment encourages parties to test and introduce new operating practices. By constructing a strong and distinctive digital economy, Finland is at the forefront of European development and is also exporting its model to the rest of the world.

This success story has been built by experts born in Finland and experts that have moved to Finland. The latter group has chosen Finland because of its stability, high quality public services, nature and dynamic working life. Centres of excellence comprising companies, higher education institutions and research institutes play a key role in the efforts to attract top talent to our country. Moreover, Finland is not selected as a place of work because of one company only. The actors involved are working in close cooperation with each other because everybody knows that the world can only be conquered as a joint effort.

Close cooperation between public and private sectors in the work to promote digitalisation of business operations and the use of AI has been the key factor in the building of an attractive and competitive Finland. The ability to engage in a productive dialogue and to take a long-term perspective has allowed Finns to find workable ways to boost innovation inputs, build effective cooperation models, develop incentive-oriented regulation, enhance business competence and promote talent. In addition to public and private sectors, experts in a broad range of different fields as well as civil society actors take part in the discussion on how to achieve sustainable growth.

The most relevantly educated nation

In 2025, in the age of artificial intelligence, Finland can also be the most relevantly educated nation, which will provide us with protection against the wind of technological change.

There is broad understanding in Finland that with technological advances and with the introduction of new technologies, society at large, the way of doing business and, consequently, the way of doing work, are also changing. This understanding has helped to make Finland a winner in the age of artificial intelligence. In 2025, Finland is a country where more work and jobs have been created than what the change has eliminated.

The work becomes more meaningful when AI- based systems take care of routine tasks. As work is performed more efficiently, we have more leisure time, which we can spend with other people or we can devote the time to our hobbies or civil society activities. AI applications help us to find jobs that can better meet our needs and in which we can make better use of our skills, which in turn will enhance wellbeing at work.

There are relatively few routine tasks in Finland that are completely replaced with artificial intelligence and the job descriptions of different professions have been developed so that there is very little unemployment as a result. To the extent that people have lost their jobs, society has been able provide the unemployed with a safety net and train them into new professions.

The educational level of the population has risen in all areas. The number of Finns with only basic education is decreasing and an increasing number of people obtain a higher education degree. The Finnish education system is better resourced and it also makes effective use of digital tools and the opportunities created by artificial intelligence. Education is more efficient and produces better results.

Understanding of artificial intelligence and new technologies has become a new civic skill, allowing Finland to make full use of the opportunities opening up in the age of artificial intelligence. Education in artificial intelligence is offered not only as part of computer science and in mathematical fields but also in applied and creative fields because artificial intelligence and digitalisation in general have been incorporated as themes in most degree programmes.

In addition to degree education, a broader range of continuing education offerings is also available and it is jointly funded by individuals, employers and the public sector in different ways. Lifelong learning is reality and it does not need to mean long absences from paid work because combining work and studies has been made easy. Individuals understand that they are also responsible for learning new things.

In 2025, in Finland of the age of artificial intelligence, it is considered important that already at basic educational level, individuals are adequately familiarised with technologies. The aim is to ensure that everybody knows how to live in a digitalised society and is able to influence the way in which it develops.

The lifelong learning reform has been the key factor in the building of the most relevantly educated nation. It has allowed the education providers to respond effectively to the substantial continuing education needs arising with the age of artificial intelligence. With the changes in the educational system, it has become possible to provide the working-age adult population with broader and better opportunities for lifelong learning so that the employees, employers and the public sector jointly bear the responsibility for keeping the skills of the workforce up to date. At the same time, by extensively incorporating artificial intelligence and digitalisation into a broad range of different educational sectors, the nation can be better prepared for society and working life in the age of artificial intelligence.

Well-informed and independent citizens

In 2025, in Finland of the age of artificial intelligence, citizens are well-informed and independent, which means a better and more active life for all of us.

Technology already provides a basis for new solutions and changes and thus the key question is how we would like to develop our society with the help of technology. In 2025, in Finland of the age of artificial intelligence, technologies have been developed and introduced so that they support the work and capabilities of individual citizens and professionals. We have autonomous and automatic systems, which are incorporated into such areas as traffic. However, in most cases, artificial intelligence acts as support intelligence and its task is not to replace humans or to make decisions on their behalf but to help them to do things better.

In 2025, in Finland of the age of artificial intelligence, citizens trust AI-based systems and believe that artificial intelligence will enhance security. The age of artificial intelligence has not eroded people’s trust in society or to each other and Finland remains a trust-based society.

Artificial intelligence has been harnessed to produce anticipatory and human- centric services in the public and private sectors. Services are more clearly focused in accordance with the needs, which makes them more effective. The new service structure has thus enhanced citizens’ wellbeing and reduced unhappiness. By doing this, it has helped to strengthen social stability and the functioning of the democratic society.

In Finland of 2025, technological advances have not led to the exclusion of groups with less developed technological skills as artificial intelligence helps services to reach those who need them, making them easier to use. Jointly built rules and regulation updated in accordance with the age of artificial intelligence will ensure that AI-based systems work in an open and transparent manner.

Citizens have a say in what information they want to disclose and to whom, and in this way, they can also influence the type and quality of the services that they get. Individuals are not passive consumers of technology as they are actively engaged in the discussion on the development and application of artificial intelligence and other technologies. The participation also has a genuine impact on the way in which our future is built.

The strong inputs by the public sector in the development of services enabled by artificial intelligence and technological advances in general have been the key factor in the process of empowering well-informed and independent citizens. This has also contributed to the development of private-sector services and the renewal of the public-sector service structure. At the same time, there has been an active discussion on applying artificial intelligence in a manner supporting well-informed and independent citizens, and the higher-education community, the private and public sectors, civil society and individual citizens have taken part in this discussion.

What do you think?

Mitä mieltä sinä olet?