With what intelligence towards future?
This spring is quite an exceptional time. It could be summed up by the idea that a British parliamentarian has said in the midst of a fierce Brexit debate last Wednesday: that it is unbelievable that after two years of reflection time considering how Brexit should be implemented, of what kind of deal Britain wants and what happens after Brexit. And we don't have any answers to any of these questions...
The world has become a more surprising place. Despite all the dirty tricks, Trump came into power and he still holds power. But another surprise can also follow and the situation can suddenly change. It is already clear how the US political map is becoming more radicalized, also on its left.
Expertise is relative today. Trump does not really have anything to do with experts, who do not first swear loyalty to him. In our SOTE preparation (an abbreviation for the Finnish ongoing health and social care restructuring), the voice of the experts began to disappear as soon as the political arguments began to fly. On the other hand, it is also more difficult for the experts themselves to stay on the map as the tasks become more and more complex.
The final result: a shared vision remains an unattainable dream, as can be seen now with SOTE (where the negotiations have failed in Finnish government to agree on a plan for social health reforms). Brexit is a perfect riddle (except that the rest of the EU will benefit from the eternal arrest leaving), and in the US, the power of the president, whose power is hard to understand, holds power.
Society is the accumulation of its own history. Everyone, from the legislation to customs, is built on the legacy of history. Now we are moving unhinged into an era where we do not have a script.
The new era looms for us in different ways. I have described previously the socio-political change. Technology for the new era plays a more prominent role.
The task of technology has always been to act as a continuum of humanity. It is our leverage that allows us to get closer to a world where there is less dull work, where knowledge and wealth are more evenly distributed, and where we do not overuse natural resources.
Now we are developing full-blown technologies that promise such a society. Perhaps the most significant branch of research and application is on research on the development of artificial intelligence, which is about 50 years old. At the moment, it is being developed in the West primarily by six technology giants known to everyone from Google to Amazon, and the idea is to collect large amount of consumer data, understand much better the sources of consumer behavior, and make consumption in a variety of forms childishly easy.
In the East, in China, on the other hand, artificial intelligence is being developed for a completely different agenda. There is a spearhead in Xi Jiping's iron-led state, in collaboration with their own Hi-tech companies (Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu). The task is two-fold: on the one hand, to keep the Chinese people under increasing social control, and on the other hand to create the gateway to China as the world's first actor. An unprecedented amount of resources has been harnessed to this end.
China's tremendous rise in just a few decades is already a remarkable achievement in itself. But it can pale in comparison. Thus, from the perspective of a futures researcher, China is currently a state that most strongly invests the most in the future, even though the ways it does it is questionable.
It is in this situation, that Europe can play an exceptional role. After all, the agenda for both China and the USA is very self-centered and inward-looking. Neither Trump nor Xi Jiping give an impression of being nice boy next door types. However, they differ in the fact that Trump does not really have any idea about the direction in which the world should be developed. Xi Jiping looks far into the future, this is clear.
But Europe’s role: since Europe was united, we have had many visionaries since Jean Monnet and Jaqcues Delors who have seen the potential role of Europe in the world. Now, the visionary refers to being maintained by Emmanuel Macron, who spoke directly to Europeans in a statement published a few weeks ago. Its core message was that Europe has a great future and its role in the world can be crucial if it can solve its internal problems, especially the growth of populist nationalism.
The world needs more than ever a Europe with multiple values. And also a lot of human intelligence to meet demands of tomorrow.