What sort of country will Finland be in 2050?
That's the central question in a new book written and edited by cyber security professor Jarno Limnéllhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=jarno+limnell called Suomen Idea. The book pulls together essays from 27 leading writers and thinkers in Finland, covering topics like culture, geopolitics, relationships, the environment, economy and business.
"The future surprises us in a way that we don't fully understand", says Professor Jarno Limnéll on the latest episode of Newsmakers, HSTV's weekly English-language current affairs show.
"It's very important to try to imagine what kind of future we want, what kind of Finns do we want to be in the future, and what is the future of this country. And I think it's very important to have a discussion on this topic", he adds.
Among the contributors - Limnéll says he picked writers who had "visionary thoughts of the future" - are many well-known names including politicians Elina Lepomäki http://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=elina+lepomakiand Abdirahim 'Husu' Husseinhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=abdirahim+'husu'+hussein; economist Sixten Korkmanhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=sixten+korkman; Finnish Chief of Defence Staff Jarmo Lindberghttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=jarmo+lindberg; management thinker 'guru' Alf Rehnhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=alf+rehn; and Madventures star Riku Rantalahttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=riku+rantala.
One important aspect of future Finland is how society will change. Although the trend over the last quarter century has been for Finland to join the European Union, and become a more open, international society, the 2011 elections brought the populist Finns Party the second highest number of MPs. In other parts of Europe, resentment at open borders and freedom of movement has encouraged other anti-immigrant parties.
But Limnéll says there is "no possibility for Finland to think only inside our border [...] it's very important also to emphasises the diversity of (future) Finns". He calls diversity "a huge richness for our culture".
"I think it's very important also to tell others outside of Finland, what is the story of Finland, what are the issues we believe, and what kind of nation this actually is", says professor Limnéll.
He concedes as that society changes, more people could move from the countryside to urban areas, a trend that has continued since independence in 1917. "Part of the discussion is about how populated countryside we need or want to have in the future. Or is the future of Finland more or less that everyone moves to the city areas and urban areas", he asks. Either way, Limnéll says that it's crucial for society to treat everyone equally, "wherever they live in Finland".
Another area that 'Suomen Idea' tackles is the technological advancements of the future, how they could add benefits, enhance quality of life, or bring challenges.
"There is a great opportunity in the speed of change we are experiencing", explains Limnéll, adding that it is also a big business opportunity for Finnish to export their tech know-how.
But he cautions that with increasing reliance on technology, come ethical questions that society should be prepared to answer. Like how much decision-making autonomy to give military robots, for example.
"We don't fully understand the meaning of security in these technologcal developments" says Limnéll. "We should already be thinking about ethical questions because it will come quite fast, and better to be prepared in advance" he says, noting that in the future, computers will become much more intelligent than humans.
Another important aspect of a future Finland, is to consider the country's security.
"The new normal of security is unpredictable instability", warns Limnéll. The most challenging point, he says, is to be able to see the big security picture, and to understand the threats from states and non-state actors like terror groups or hackers.
Speaking of Russia, he says it's "unpredictable to know what will happen in the coming years" but that's not necessarily a bad thing if Finland is prepared physically and in terms of security and mental resiliance to face the future.
Despite words of caution, the writers who contributed to 'Suomen Idea' strike an overall optimistic tone for the future of Finland, according to Limnéll.
"People love stories" he says. "Especially as we are [...] celebrating our 100th year of independence, I think it's very important to highlight what is the story of the future of Finland, and what kind of Finland we really want to create".
- Suomi Seuraa
- Suomi 100 vuotta Seuraa
- Tulevaisuus Seuraa
- Newsmakers Seuraa
- HSTV Seuraa