Ladies and gentlemen, dear graduates,
It recognises your faces, it understands my speech and it even helps us drive a car. “Artificial Intelligence is going to have as big an impact on our society as electricity.” This is what Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman of the Board in Nokia, says on the Elements of AI course website. His words crystallize the significance of AI. Today it is shown in our daily lives in many ways. It is not a single technology but consists of various elements.
Technology has developed at a rapid pace and now enables things that we couldn't even dream of a few decades ago. Or maybe some people did. Those visionaries and inventors who have developed new ideas with an open mind. With a better and more functional world as a goal.
The same sort of open mind can be sensed here today. The University of Helsinki and Reaktor have created the course which is available online, open for everyone, free of charge, a high quality and extremely popular. The idea of the online course is to cover the basics and provide facts for discussion instead of us feeling powerless when facing new. The course also helps lower the threshold for learning and understanding new things.
The Elements of AI course has become by far the most popular online course in the history of the Helsinki University: there are 90,000 students now, and more are signing up every day. And it's not only for us Finns. Half of the students are abroad, all over the world.
AI will change the contents of our work and create new professions and job descriptions. Working life will change. It is understandable if all that seems strange and arouses suspicion. Will robots take our jobs, will I no longer be needed? The change in labour market has been compared to the automation of agriculture. The agricultural revolution was not instant either, but it altered society and our daily lives dramatically. It also resulted in a high rate of unemployment at times, but history shows us that new professions and jobs eventually provided people with a higher standard of living.
Artificial intelligence can also be defined as a kind of support intelligence. In health care, for example, doctors will still make the treatment decisions, but AI can help them in the process by picking the essential from the flood of information. The need for human relations and empathy will not disappear. And it shouldn't either.
All this creates not only a lot of opportunities but also challenges. Will decision-making shift from people to machines? Who owns the collected data and who is allowed to use its potential? In addition to these ethical issues, we must also consider privacy, confidentiality and freedom of expression.
From a security point of view, AI brings new means on transnational influence. It provides tools for combating cyber attacks. But on the other hand, cyber attacks become easier. We have to prepare ourselves for these new kinds of threats. We must continue development work but it is necessary to draw boundaries and agree the rules of play.
In this work, international cooperation is very important. The opportunities created by AI and digitalisation are increasingly used in Finland, both in the public and private sectors. But we still need more cooperation between public authorities, businesses, educational institutions and civil society.
I wish to extend my thanks to the designers of the online course for their down-to-earth approach in the promotion of competence and technology. You have taken initiative and actively created a modern learning tool for everybody. Your course will provide us all an opportunity to learn something new.
I encourage to take this course. I believe that the number of students will keep growing and new ideas will flourish. I wish to thank you all for your efforts and congratulate you for passing the course. I also wish you all good luck and every success in future life.