Aila Paloniemi I JAMK University of Applied Sciences Ltd. Chairperson I MP

Thoughts on JAMK’s strategy:Technology is transforming the world

"Society, economy and lifestyles are being fundamentally transformed by virtualisation, biotechnology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology. The new technology is also changing the operating cultures and models as well as learning and education. "

With virtualisation, we are moving towards blogalisation and sharing economy. In this, customers take part in the product design, manufacturing and financing themselves by means of social media. Social media is turning into a production structure. Games are also moving from the entertainment industry to being management and leadership tools. These are the thoughts of Olli Hietanen, a permanent expert at the Finnish Parliament’s Committee for the Future.  

Packaging materials, for example, will make life easier by taking care of some matters on our behalf. The packaging will identify its user and prepare things like operating instructions and diagnoses. A smart home will also feature virtual design. The wallpaper colours, lighting, sounds and scents can be adjusted, and the furniture, floor, fridge, packaging and clothing will communicate with each other. The fridge can keep track of its contents and inform the user of special offers in the local grocery shop. Even if family members live in different corners of the world, they can still have a meal “together” thanks to the full-wall screens in the dining room. A material detector on the wall can read whether your medication is in order, whether you have cancer or whether you are happy or sad.

Cars will move without drivers, no people will be needed in factories, and service robots will work at hospitals, care homes, day-care centres and restaurants. Robots also feature artificial intelligence, and will perform the majority of future transactions in the stock market, for instance.

But what will happen to jobs in the world of new technologies and robots? People had the same fears in the 18th century when the steam engine was invented. However, new technologies have increased well-being and created new jobs and growth. For example, Valmet Automotive, or the Uusikaupunki car plant, is one of Finland’s most robotised plants. Yet it is among the companies recruiting the most new employees in Southwest Finland. The Meyer shipyard succeeds and creates employment by investing in the latest technology, and so forth.

Robots cannot replace people, but they can help us do something that we have not been able to do before. At the Uusikaupunki car plant, robots work in pairs with vehicle mechanics, and more mechanics are needed all the time. With the help of robots, surgeons can now perform operations that we could only dream of before. Some robots create new jobs and others reduce them, such as many industrial robots.  

Future researchers predict that the next 20 years will change the world more than the previous 200 years have done. Half of the scientific publications ever made by humankind are from the past 20 years. If the development continues at this rate, the number of new scientific publications in the next three decades will be equal to all those published in the world until now!

Augmented reality will be here soon. For example, smart glasses will enable us to see anything anywhere. Instead of an insurance policy, the insurance company can sell you a personal “guardian angel” that will know and take care of everything. It can prevent accidents at home and detect leaks and mildew. When the “angel” combines the data from all the sensors, it can switch on the coffee machine at the right time and book you a holiday in the sun. Whereas we have so far only collected and stored information, we will soon be using tools with which we can use information. For instance, nano-sized robots can be used to replace and even control cells and genes. Computers can be nanorobots inside us, controlling our bodies. The boundary between robotics and people will fade.