The future is still ours
Technological development is exponential, and the future opportunities are nearly endless. However, our materialistic accomplishments will remain insignificant unless our attitude changes, says alumna Pia Henrietta Kekäläinen from the Singularity University in California.
In 1965, the founder of technology company Intel, Gordon Earle Moore, observed the number of transistors used in microchips doubled approximately every two years. This rule, known as Moore's law, has held true for more than half of a century. In practice, the exponential growth of technical performance predicted by Moore means that one day the majority of work conducted on Earth can be handed over to artificial intelligence and robots. “That is, if our planet survives,” Kekäläinen points out.
According to Kekäläinen, the greatest challenge of humanity does not lie in the development of new technologies but in the stimulus of development: the needs that motivate innovations are often materialistic, and the benefits they bring are often short-lived.
“People and companies are seldom interested in the long-term consequences of our actions,” Kekäläinen says. “Even if we stopped the pollution of the environment immediately, the effects would still be seen generations later.”
Responsibility pays off
According to Kekäläinen, instead of projects that short-sightedly aim at making money, the technological focus should be on solving the key challenges of humanity. These include the sufficiency of clean water and food as well as many health-related issues.
“Business can be both sustainable and profitable. For example, when it succeeds, the desalination process that enables using sea water as drinking water will revolutionise the lives of millions of people who suffer from draught. At the same time, the technology holds massive business potential,” Kekäläinen says.
Community increases innovation
As the world keeps on globalising, the limited resources of our planet are continuously shared by a growing number of people of different cultures and environments. Therefore, nobody can set the pace by themselves, as we have to form a collective opinion. Kekäläinen points out that this is where the power of community comes in.
“When everyone contributes to the cause, we can choose the best innovations and refine them together.”
In the corporate world, this shows in the way the start-up culture is utilised as a part of the ecological strategy of large companies. Kekäläinen recommends that everyone open-mindedly takes on ideas that have arisen from collective contemplation.
“The majority of the successful Fortune 500 companies utilise the accelerator and incubator models in developing their operations, and nobody should be scared of presenting bold ideas in the weekly meetings of even smaller companies.”
What advice would you give the decision-makers of local companies?
“Eat locally, think globally, act universally, exist cosmically,” Kekäläinen says as she paraphrases Nancy Ellen Abrams.
“And most of all: do cool things,” she adds with a smile.