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Technology is the answer, what was the question?

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In the days of computer infancy, in 1966, Cedric Price, known as a radical architect, posed the question in his lecture: “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” Price’s purpose with the question was to provoke the audience to think about what the development of technology would mean in architecture.

Today, when the development of technology accelerates day by day, the same question can be asked. What question is technology the answer to?

Virtual Reality” by Bruce Mars/ CC0 1.0

It’s awesome to follow the development of quantum technology. New breakthroughs occur every day. Investments in the sector are increasing fast. There are already a few different technologies to build the so-called universal quantum computer, and the winner has not been chosen yet. The quantum boom has reached Finland as well, thanks to the cooperation between VTT and IQM, in which the CSC’s Lumi supercomputer has also joined, creating great headlines around the world, in addition to new utilization opportunities, of course. KvanttiKarelia, ecosystem projects aim at anyone interested, with its seminars and open discussion sessions, providing information and awareness of the possibilities of quantum technology, mainly quantum computing, to a wide audience.

A lot is happening in the quantum field, but the universal quantum machine is still in the so-called long run, and there is no exact measure for the number of kilometers to run. Many anticipate that the year 2030 would be the year of the general-purpose quantum machine, but it remains to be seen whether it will be that year. It could be sooner, or it could be later, the native of Savo would say (Savo is a region in Finland). So far, a quantum machine does not exceed the capabilities of a classical computer, but it can help a classical computer in some tasks.

But what would be the question if a quantum machine is an answer? Browsing the know-it-all internet, questions there is an abundance of meaningful questions. How can we save the world from climate destruction? How can we develop better medicines and save people from serious diseases? How could the financial sector become more secure and efficient? How can a safe cyber environment be guaranteed for states, companies, and individuals? How to optimize logistics and traffic for the good of the nature and commuters? Among other things, it would be worthwhile for the decision-makers to put these questions on the agenda now, or preferably even yesterday so that they are ready for new policies and solutions when the time comes – or at least to combat threats related to cyber security.

In the recently published book “Convergence” (Ed. Greg Viggiano, Wiley 2023), quantum pioneers Denise Ruffner and André M. König reflect on the future of quantum technology. They state that nature is not based on classical physics, but on quantum physics. The arrival of a quantum machine would therefore mean a big change in the way we understand the world and the realization of solutions in a new way. Ruffner and König also foresee the arrival of strong artificial intelligence with the quantum machine. What happens then? In addition to good things, the development of horrific weapons of mass destruction is also possible, the authors remind. That’s one more good reason to prepare for the arrival of quantum machines, even if the schedule has not been confirmed.

Let’s go back to our architect, Cedric Price. What did he dream about? What would have been the question if technology was the answer. Price dreamed up an experience space called Fun Palace, a concept that is considered his main work. In the Fun Palace, a combination of technology, varied materials, and interactivity would create an unprecedented space for learning, science, and culture. A space that would transform with its users.

What would architect Price say about the metaverse? I would imagine that he would be ecstatic to see, for example, the implementation of the National Museum in the metaverse. “This is exactly what I meant”, he would exclaim. In his lifetime, Price never saw entertainment centers equal to Fun Palace. And Fun Palace didn’t materialize either, neither the investors nor the planners believed in it. Sad.

The quantum era requires curiosity, and the ability to look far enough into the future

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The need for knowledge is now growing faster than the ability of degree programs to keep up with developments. It is worth keeping an eye on the quantum time on the horizon because it is estimated to be a reality in 2030. When realized, quantum machines will revolutionize our understanding of the possibilities of technology.

The importance of developing technology will increase strongly in the coming years. However, the ability of organizations to perceive the possibilities of new technologies is still limited:

Companies and organizations already know how to describe goals, objectives, and processes quite well as part of strategy work, and how to reach the goal. However, often one important question is left unasked: what should we learn to reach the goal?

Learning itself is in transition. Many of the developing technologies are such that degrees have not yet been developed around them. As part of the green transition, we will experience a wave of micro-degrees and a shift in learning towards non-formal learning. The need for knowledge is now growing faster than the ability of degree programs to keep up with developments.

It is worth keeping an eye on the quantum era on the horizon because it is estimated to be a reality in 2030. When realized, quantum machines will revolutionize our understanding of the possibilities of technology.

The Quantum era challenges human perception

Whereas today’s computers calculate digital bits, ones or zeros, a quantum computer calculates with qubits, which enable the processing of huge masses of data simultaneously. The scale can be understood, for example, by the fact that Google’s 54-qubit machine completed a task in about 3 minutes, which, according to Google’s estimate, would have taken a traditional supercomputer ten thousand years. In addition to Google, Intel, IBM, and Microsoft are also participating in the global quantum computing race, while governments like China, the United States, and England are investing in quantum technologies. In Finland, VTT has acquired its quantum machine.

Quantum technology is hoped to provide solutions to many questions affecting the energy industry, medicine, and at the same time the whole of humanity. It is possible that we will find, for example, things about climate change that we cannot currently understand and simulate, because the capacity of today’s computers is not enough.

With the help of quantum technology, we will probably get more information about humans as well, and we will be able to produce more individualized information for medicine and understanding of the human molecular level. These are challenging topics and often the most difficult questions of all, to which the computing power of the human brain is impossible to adapt.

“Like a thief in the night”

Although the quantum era still seems far away to many, quantum computing and quantum technology are currently developing at such a pace that it is worth following the development closely.

Attention should be paid to the quantum. For example in Finnish companies, so far there have been almost no preparations for the arrival of quantum technology, which is very worrying. In many organizations, the matter has not been given even the first thought, even though it is important to at least be aware of the existence of quantum technologies.

A point of comparison can be applied to artificial intelligence; artificial intelligence also experienced the so-called artificial intelligence winter when its realization was not believed. In 2017, artificial intelligence spread to everyone’s consciousness, and new applications started to enter the market. Artificial intelligence became a reality and part of the everyday life of organizations. A similar development can be expected from quantum machines.

All signals and almost daily progress support the fact that we are moving forward all the time. One day, five, ten, or twenty years from now, a quantum computer will be a reality. Preparation for the quantum era must start now because when the time comes, it happens out of the blue, and challenges, which are difficult to overcome as a winner, arise for the unprepared.

From data security and cyber security point of view, quantum technology also brings a clear challenge. If a quantum machine can break virtually any current encryption, it will significantly increase the threat of cyber-attacks and make, for example, current blockchain technologies vulnerable. On the other hand, with the help of a quantum machine, it may be possible to create a completely unbreakable internet, which takes cyber security to a new level.

Quantum technology can be used for research and product development or for improving the productivity of processes in many different industries. It becomes easier to produce different analysis and forecasting models and, for example, in the banking and financial sector, fraud prevention, and risk assessment become substantially more effective.

From humanity’s point of view, the greatest benefits arise from speeding up the development cycles of medicines and vaccines, as well as combating climate change, and the possibility to reduce emissions.

Quantum technology also requires a change in mindset

Quantum technology requires an extensive change in the way of thinking, when the current digital world gets from a world that consists of strings of ones and zeros, to a world where ones and zeros are simultaneous and in two states at the same time.

Everything will be much faster

The words efficiency and productivity will not disappear anywhere, but in the future, they will focus on things other than human-made work. In practice, this means, for example, that when a quantum machine simulates a solution quickly, the meaning of human work changes.

It is good to be aware that this does not mean that human work will disappear, but that the importance of humans as part of the process must be seen differently. A person must see meaning in the process itself; for example, in learning something new, better understanding humanity, or increasing empathy. In the future, the manager’s most important task will be handling this slow and at the same time lightning-fast process and asking the right and meaningful questions.

The paradigm shift will also be seen as a change in decision-making, which will be revolutionary in terms of management. While now we can in some way trace how artificial intelligence has reached its conclusions, it is not possible to act in the same way with a quantum machine, because there might be no traceability.

The absence of verification and relying on a quantum machine will be big leaps forward because we are used to being able to verify how the result or conclusion in question has been reached.

The leader of the quantum era dares to think big

From the point of view of companies, it is important to think about how an organization can succeed with the help of a quantum machine, and what are the questions that we can seek answers to with the help of a quantum machine?

Leaders who know how to think big and who dare to tackle multidimensional and difficult problems by utilizing quantum technology to solve them will succeed in the quantum era. The problems themselves must be able to be formulated from different perspectives than before.

Competing actors should be kept an eye on and at least be aware of their goals to introduce quantum technology. Unprepared companies sooner or later face the so-called zero moments, which makes an unprepared company unnecessary, history has many examples of this to tell.

Emerging technologies and becoming familiar with them is on the agenda of a future-aware government operating in the present. It is not enough for the boards of companies and organizations to only look at the year that started, but the focus should be further, ten or even tens of years away. However, this does not necessarily mean that there should be ready-made plans. For many, it is enough to be curious about the becoming quantum era.

It’s about increasing awareness and following the development of technology even from the corner of the eye. About realizing that when quantum time is realized, it will change many existing truths.

Anticipating quantum time is one of the most important tasks of management

The development of quantum technology already offers us many possible paths to the future and the questions in which direction leadership should develop. Following weak signals and advancements and being aware of technological developments plays a key role in future-proof management.

You can still hear a lot of voices saying that there will be no quantum era. Of course, this may be possible, but very unlikely so. This is evidenced, for example, by the significant investments that are currently being made in quantum machines around the world. Fundamental breakthroughs have also been made where a quantum computer has already been able to be more efficient than a classical computer in a narrow sector. Currently, the development of quantum technology is moving forward by leaps and bounds.

That’s why it’s interesting how quantum time has received so little attention in companies so far. It seems that the biggest reason why the quantum era does not fit on the management’s agenda is that the issue and the importance of the phenomenon are not yet fully understood, or the topic still seems too distant.

However, it is typical for development that things progress slowly at first until suddenly a leap forward is taken. In the same way that the development of a traditional computer has taken it from one large, room-sized machine to a tool that fits in your pocket, a similar future awaits the quantum machine.

That’s why it’s worth looking at and familiarizing yourself with the quantum future right now.

#technology #quantumconputing #prediction

The article was originally published in Finnish at Johdonagendalla leadership portal.

Cristina Andersson is an entrepreneur and business management consultant. She has been working with artificial intelligence and robotics since 2011. She is a member of the steering group of the Artificial Intelligence 4.0 program led by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and she serves as the chair of the program’s Green transition group. Cristina is an educationalist by background. She has also studied the future of work, technology, and management, and she sees professional foresight and learning as a vital part of continuous learning. She believes that one must understand emerging technologies to realize what to learn and study.

The digital transition is not automatically green

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Major development trends, such as digitalisation and the fight against climate change, affect the operations of every company. Digitalisation can contribute to the green transition, but the two themes are not automatically linked in a sustainable way. When talking about a green transition, in addition to reducing the negative effects alone, we should move on to talking about an active handprint – what good is my organisation doing around it?

Digitalisation and the green transition are often linked, but digitalisation does not automatically promote a green transition. In fact, there is quite a bit of talk about emissions from digitalisation, given that its emissions even exceed those from aviation.

For us to talk about a truly digital and green transition together, sustainability must be a cross-cutting theme in digital development. This requires active consideration of three perspectives:

  1. whether digital solutions are produced sustainably, and
  2. whether they are used sustainably, and
  3. whether they are used to achieve a more sustainable world.

In the Finnish Artificial Intelligence 4.0 program initiated by The Ministry of Employment and the Economy, we talk about nature smart digitalisation, where these aspects are considered. Indeed, many companies may be facing the need to innovate and re-engineer digital processes in a nature smart way.

Looking at the carbon footprint is no longer enough – What kind of handprint is your business leaving in the world?

Reducing the carbon footprint has been tackled with a firm grip in states, cities, businesses, and the individual level. Next, it is important for us to move on to think about the positive effects that our actions can have on ecosystems and the environment – that is, our handprint on the environment.

Carbon handprint refers for example to the positive effect of helping others reduce their own carbon footprint. Many companies may have only a small portion of their total carbon footprint in the value chain, and most may come from the supply chain or customers. If a company can develop its product so that customers can reduce its carbon footprint, the company has made a positive impact, a handprint.

The handprint is not a new idea, but now that the world is passionately looking for solutions to rapidly accelerating climate change, it has risen high in the value scale of solutions. Finland is an international pioneer in the development and implementation of the handprint concept.

Finnish companies have here the famous thousand dollars opportunity to create new markets, and to become a part of new global value chains. There is a huge demand for solutions that enable customers to improve their position in a market that is increasingly determined by the principles of sustainable development.

Financing, whether in the form of loans, investments, or public support, is becoming more limited if there is no or only little evidence of sustainable action. The handprint will take sustainability to a new level and within a couple of years we will see that it is also taken into account in the book of international sustainability criteria.

In addition to the climate, social responsibility must be considered

As we have seen with carbon neutrality goals, ambitious goals drive us to good results. Therefore, our ambition with our handprint must not be limited to the carbon handprint alone, but we must see our impact on society and the world more broadly.

Climate action cannot be taken at the expense of social sustainability, such as human rights. If climate action creates a by-pass for human rights, we may end up in a society that does not serve people as it should – equally and creating opportunities for everyone. A question for you reader: what could the social sustainability handprint mean for your organization?

For companies, financial sustainability is also invaluable, without profitability and productivity it is impossible to operate. We are facing a major systemic change. We need to bring many things and aspects together and work out the optimal solutions. But if there is a will, there is a way. What is needed now is leadership and the will to act and make sustainability happen!

This article was originally posted at Ministry of Employment and The Economy’ website.

Cristina Andersson, Airawise Oy

Member of the Artificial Intelligence 4.0 Steering Group and Chair of the Green Transition Subgroup

The Artificial Intelligence 4.0 column series publishes the writings of those involved in the program on current topics related to artificial intelligence and digitization. Read more about Artificial Intelligence 4.0 on the Ministry of Employment and the Economy’s website.

10 reasons why the Board of Directors should pay attention to Quantum Computing

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“Unclear”. “Uncertain if ever available”. “Difficult”. “No practical applications”.

After hearing these comments, a CEO probably wouldn´t be eager to present quantum technology at the strategy meeting of executives or to the board of directors. Though they should.

It is true, that it is still early days before quantum technology can deliver practical benefits to companies. Just like any other new and disruptive technology, quantum technology seems unclear and difficult to grasp at first.

An executive leading a business feels the urge to learn about new sources of significant competitive edge and be warned about possible dangers to prepare for.

Big steps of development

Quantum computing reached a significant milestone in 2019. Google’s 54 qubit computer completed a task in 200 seconds, which would have taken roughly ten thousand years for a regular computer. Yes, the task solved a very specific problem, and there’s still some way to go until practical applications, but the result is still remarkable.

For the first time, a quantum computer solved something impossible for a regular computer. This is called quantum supremacy and Google’s computer achieved that last year.

Another manufacturer of quantum computers, IonQ, announced that they achieved quantum supremacy already before Google, but withheld the information to avoid conflicts that Google’s announcement and IBM’s fierce denial of Google’s results have caused. IonQ has set a goal to double the number of qubits of their quantum computer annually. The number of qubits indicates the power of the quantum computer in the same way as people have been measuring how many transistors are in a microprocessor.

Unclarity is a part of creating something radically new. People disagree on direction, timing and even which problems are central to solve first.  Many different technologies are at odds with each other, and a clear winning technology hasn’t been discovered yet. Quantum technology keeps on improving, that much is certain, it is the schedule for all these milestones that remain in the dark.

Commercially useful implementations will be in use in the 2020s, but a universal quantum computer will probably have to wait for at least 10 years, maybe more.

Finland is a strong participant in the field of quantum technology

Finland is in a good position. Several trailblazing quantum start-ups like IQM and Bluefors have been born in Finland. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland announced they will acquire the first quantum computer in Finland. The project begins with the acquisition of a five-qubit computer and the goal is to increase the number of qubits significantly in the coming years. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland’s project is important to both Finland and Europe because knowledge and the birth of new earning models form by being a part of the ecosystem when it is being formed.

Finland is also a part of the European Quantum Communication Network, which aims to develop and ensure a secure infrastructure for the needs of communication in the quantum age.

At the end of the article is a short description of what quantum technology is.

Next up is a ten-point list of reasons why quantum technology should be taken seriously. Now is the right time to think when this could be topical for your business, and how your competitors will act.

10 reasons why quantum technology should be on your board’s agenda now

I interviewed experts of different fields for this article and compiled their views into a 10 point list.

Quantum technology will affect all fields of humanity, business, and the universe, so this list will only give a summary of what the future could be. With the help of this list, businesses and boards of other organizations can begin to get acquainted with the quantum world.

1. Productivity

The development of business processes has come so far, that significant steps of improvement are harder and harder to make anymore.

Material management, logistics, production, service processes, and marketing are areas where the optimizing capabilities of a quantum computer can give a significant edge in improving productivity.

As a single example, a manufacturing robot has been programmed to be as efficient as it possibly can using modern technology. With a quantum computer, the trajectories of a welding robot could be optimized multiple times, which would bring cost-effectiveness and improve energy efficiency.

2. R & D

There are industries, where the amount of data is so massive, that it is almost impossible to model the operation and dynamics of the object. Research is done by experimentation and modeling and still desired precision can’t be reached.

For example, the medical industry is looking to quantum computing for solutions to simulate molecular dynamics, to avoid testing through trial and error.

R & D and conclusions become faster and more accurate, and we’ll have new medicine and vaccines faster at our disposal to combat new diseases.

3. Climate change

What we know about our climate today, is the result of thousands of scientists and their work, but there is still much to discover.

What does the climate system consist of, how could the effects of climate change be modeled and combined with other fields of science to find even better solutions?

These are some of the questions we want quantum technology to solve, and we believe that the new computing power will bring about these solutions.

Quantum sensors are also helping combat the effects of climate change, as they gather information more accurately than modern sensors.

4.  Forecasting and Foreseeing

AI and machine learning have already brought great change to analyzing, forecasting, and foreseeing. However, there are still areas where the amounts of data are so massive, that the computing power of traditional computers isn’t enough to analyze and produce accurate forecasts.

Weather forecasting could be significantly more accurate with the help of a quantum computer. Thanks to the computing power of a quantum computer, banks, and financial businesses can more easily tackle fraud, also estimate risks and profits.

5. Traffic

In co-operation with quantum computer company D-Wave, Volkswagen has carried out traffic optimization tests using quantum algorithms. The goals of traffic optimization are saving time and energy, minimizing emissions, and keeping traffic fluent. In a test in Lisbon, bus drivers could avoid traffic situations even before they emerged.

In the future quantum computers can control the movements of autonomous vehicles, while regarding ever-changing circumstances and environmental changes.

Italian telecommunications operator TIM is the first in Europe to implement quantum computing algorithms, in planning its next-generation mobile networks.

6. Solving complicated problems

A quantum computer can help businesses solve customer’s problems a million times faster than their competitors according to DIF’s blog. A traditional computer functions in a linear way between ones and zeros. A quantum computer works differently – ones and zeros function simultaneously in a superposition.

Complicated problems are complicated because there are multiple layers. In his book “Decoding Reality” Physicist and professor, Vladko Vedral uses a library as an example. For a traditional computer, finding a specific title out of a million titles in a library would take a couple of weeks, when a quantum computer could do the same in a matter of minutes.

The capability to solve complex and multi-layered problems will certainly give a competitive edge for pioneers.

7. Individual healthcare

15 years ago, cholesterol pills were one of the most popular medicines on the market. Later it was discovered, that cholesterol pills weren’t for everybody. Medical science has developed towards a more personalized direction, more patients get precision medication for their ailments. But a big leap is still possible through quantum technology.

A human being consists of many layers of “omics”, genomics, metabolomics, microbiomics, and so on. What also affects health is the environment, social conditions, mental factors, etc.

With quantum technologies – for example, quantum computing and sensors – the whole of a person can be observed even faster and be provided with proper individualized measures and medication.

The impact will be significant on public health, economy, and welfare.

8. Information and cyber safety

The biggest threat of quantum technology is, that it could cause the breakdown of modern encryption methods.

Post-quantum cryptography projects develop encryption methods that can’t be broken with a quantum computer. In May 2020 SSH.COM received significant funding from Business Finland for a post-quantum cryptography project.

Samsung has already introduced a quantum-safe phone for the 2020 market.

There are many views on the threats to cybersecurity, but the most important thing is to understand what would be at risk in a company’s security if a quantum machine could break it. Companies must be aware of this now and act.

9. Machine learning

Quantum machine learning is one of the most interesting areas of quantum computing.

When a machine can handle vast amounts of data and learn individually how to solve massive problems, humanity will see development, which might yet be difficult to comprehend.

Targets of use and effects are foreseen for example to agriculture and food production, and the aviation industry.

Quantum machine learning (QML) is based on traditional computer-quantum computer hybrids.

QML is applied for example in different optimizing and measuring tasks.

10. Multifaceted utilization of technology

Many have brought up in discussions that overhyping should be avoided, and to recognize that even traditional technologies still have their place and will develop further.

For example, in space exploration, quantum technology can be useful in some applications, but a large bulk of the modeling work will be done by CPU and GPU computing.

Also, alternative means for quantum and digital computers are being researched.

Every company strives to serve its customers in the best possible way. To succeed in that they need to use the most relevant and appropriate technology. Although current technologies will still prevail for a long time, quantum technologies can provide a significant competitive edge in some areas already soon. That is why getting acquainted with quantum technologies and understanding when and where to apply them should be a priority.

Recommendations for management and boards

Business cycles are long in many branches of industry. Investment cycles can be between 10 to 30 years, and even longer in energy industries. Investments of today will be challenged by quantum computers latest in the 2030s.

Recognize, that quantum technology will be relevant and a source of competitive advantage.

Improvements in the field should be followed in different ways and build one’s view for the future and analyze which developments are suitable specifically for us.

Understand, in which areas where you can have a competitive edge with a quantum computer, and plan for how quantum technology can be taken on the agenda of your business. The subject should be taken at least as a part of the annual clock of the board. An opening for gathering information about quantum technologies should be added to the strategy sessions of the management.

Prepare, bring forth fantastic problems, that could be solved with quantum technologies. If quantum technologies look like they’d have an effect or benefit potential for your business, get expertise, so you can start building a quantum path for your company.

Quantum technology in a nutshell:

Quantum mechanics = Basic theory of physics, which describes how laws of nature work. Includes a bunch of concepts, which feel a bit weird in the perceptible world.

Superposition = Objects in a quantum state act both as waves and solid particles simultaneously. Their state (for example energy) can’t be precisely defined, but it is a probability distribution (superposition) of all kinds of states. In a traditional computer, bits consist of ones and zeros, in a quantum computer they are simultaneously both, i.e. in a superposition of one and zero.

Entanglement = Objects in a quantum state are connected in such a manner, that no matter how far apart their states are, they’re still dependent on each other. Albert Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance”. He didn’t understand this, so don’t worry if you don’t either.

Teleportation = Transmitting information through entanglement between two quantum particles. Only information transfers, not the particles themselves (like in Star Trek, which is a shame…)

Quantum computer, i.e. a quantum machine = a computer, which utilizes the characteristics of quantum mechanics to make calculations that are impossible to make in a reasonable time with a traditional computer.

Qubit, i.e. a quantum bit = A qubit is a superposition of quantum states and can store much more information than a regular bit. Quantum computers are often compared by the number of qubits because it reflects how complex calculations the quantum computer can make.

Quantum encryption = Technology how to make information hidden using quantum mechanics and readable by only those who are permitted access. With quantum encryption, breaking into the information is impossible.


“A piece of advice for the chairmen of the boards, you need to allocate time in the annual clock, to keep up with new technologies and think, what is the situation from your perspective.

Quantum technology can bring about competition from other industries – new technologies make new customer behavior possible.

Without reflecting together, it is hard to find opportunities or pitfalls in current activities. You got to keep your eyes open, or else you might miss the train.”

Leena Linnainmaa, DIF ry

“To what extent is quantum a disruptive technology, or is it not? It’s hard to understand at this point. When the field has advanced to a certain point, all modern information security loses its meaning. Can we prepare, do we even know enough about the subject to be able to prepare?

Governments, global tech-giants invest enormous amounts in quantum technology and related things, the field has been growing immensely for some time now. You have to be in the game to affect it. Now that we’re creating something new, let’s not make the mistake of approaching it from just one scientific field.

Bring in physicists, cryptographers, sociologists, law experts, corporate life, etc. around the table. A larger interdisciplinary group is important because the change is massive. Political decision-makers are also important, they must understand the opportunities, threats, and effects of quantum technology”

Jarno Limnéll, Aalto-university

“The gap is between what we’d like and could do, and what we can do with modern computing resources for example in quantum mechanics. Even with modern supercomputers, we can’t model particularly complex systems on the atomic level, beginning from the principle laws of physics, not to mention protein and cell systems. Simulating cells on the molecular level is still far ahead, a gap of billions and billions in magnitude.

The problems of chemistry can’t be described without quantum mechanical methods when we want to research the reactions and structure of electrons. These issues could, in theory, be solved with a quantum computer”

Julius Sipilä, Orion Pharma R&D

“You must follow the development of quantum technology to learn which areas might suddenly become active. For example, information security can be both a threat and an opportunity. Quantum technology brings with its opportunities like unbreakable internet or the threat of breaking all encryption – what would this mean? Or if we had the tools to design vastly better chemical processes than competitors?

It is crucial to understand where vulnerabilities lie. A quantum computer may seem too far off to pay attention to. But for example, the goal for carbon neutrality is in 2035, and in that period a quantum computer is not an impossibility.

Production technologies change, and then you must think, that if in 15 years, a quantum computer were in use, how would things be at that point. Decisions on energy systems need to consider the possibility of having quantum computers available, even though you must make the same decisions as usual.

If long term investments are being made to a giant chemistry factory, considerations about quantum must be seen in the risk analysis.”

Antti Vasara, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

“Quantum technology is a disruptive force. The biggest challenge is breaking the encryption methods. Who gets the first quantum computer in use, can break encryption methods and all systems break? If I was in management or a company chairman, this would be so important to bring up. Modern computers can’t take on tasks as big and complex as a quantum computer can.

When the quantum age begins, many businesses will be left without a foundation. In my book “Teknoelämää 2035” from 2013, I pondered about this.

How will governments begin to use quantum computers? The Chinese are already sending quantum encrypted messages.

Quantum technology can make dictatorship possible, which is the ultimate dystopian scenario, which must be avoided. For example, North Korea has made enormous investments in information technology and hacking. The threat of cyberwar is growing, and the quantum computer is the atomic bomb.

Dangers are important in a way, but it is also important to understand what good technology can be used for. The quantum computer is a big leap forward. It’s a modern computer multiplied with a billion. With it, the effects of global warming can be modeled better, foresee the spread of a pandemic and utilize big data more efficiently.

Now forecasting AI algorithms are used to anticipate what for example a consumer will do next.

How much can we foresee big things, when we have quantum computers? Quantum technology is a massive opportunity.”

Elina Hiltunen, Futurist

“The vision should be right at this point. We must realize that a global revolution is on its way and the ball is already rolling. Nobody has yet the dominant position in quantum technology, but if investments aren’t being made in the upcoming years, another facet may easily become the center of it.

Some facets may be on the top right now, but the game is far from over. A Finnish quantum computer is important. A quantum computer will be purchased for VTT, which should be supported. We must think further into the future and make decisions accordingly. How could we after testing and piloting, create quantum computing services? Creating an ecosystem is important, for businesses to begin using quantum services.”

Mikko Möttönen, Aalto-university

“It is clear, that quantum computing could apply to weather and global warming forecasting and modeling. Special features of quantum computing can be utilized in computational solving of equations of laws of nature. To our understanding, that AI won’t create the next disruption in weather prediction per se, but quantum computers include that promise.”

Juhani Damski, Finnish Meteorological Institute

“The deep understanding and managing of the effects of global warming need faster and more accurate climate system simulations, which could become possible through quantum computers. Then we have a better grasp of contingencies and the ability to go deeper into the physics, and better connecting them to other fields of science (for example social sciences)”

Sami Niemelä, Finnish Meteorological Institute

“Governments and organizations should bring up these new things, and create databanks. What sort of education is needed? Let’s enlighten the educators close to the operatives, key organizations and people”

Anne Brunila, KTT, Member of KONE board of directors

“Quantum is still new and unknown. The European quantum bill was ignored by 10 ministries, the response was: “doesn’t concern us”. Quantum technology is way too new and strange, so it’s disregarded. However, consciousness and understanding are important right now.

It is important to understand what could be achieved with such technology. There is a great concern about falling behind other continents.

Finland is usually too low key in EU funding projects. Horizon funding and Digital Europe consists of 80 billion Euros over 7 years. Finnish universities and engineering are both cutting edge, so it is important to gravitate towards the European research field. For some reason, it is hard to get Finns as a part of European collaboration. Finland is bigger it’s size when it comes to information security, and from that perspective, we have a good foundation for reacting positively towards the development of quantum.” 

Laura Vilkkonen, LVM

“Technology is no longer a limiting factor. Traditional technology is easy, it’s the processes that usually make it complicated, self-made complexities. Formulating the problems fed to the quantum computer into algorithms is hard.  When someone brings a quantum computer to the market, it’s already too late to formulate your problems for the quantum age.”

Jaakko Hyvärinen, Accenture Oy

“At Accenture, we have recognized over 200 use cases by industry, where there will be considerable benefits. Use cases can be found in all industries. Optimizing portfolios in finance, simulations, and process optimizations in energy, optimizing logistics in retail, weather forecasting, cryptography, etc. are all targets of application for quantum technology.”

Jaakko Hyvärinen, Accenture Oy

In a Robotizing World a Worker Becomes an Investor

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A lot of talk about the future of work is going on around the world.  Almost everybody seems to be worried about what will happen when robotization and digitalization take over more and more of jobs that used to belong to us humans.

Indeed there is a great need for new solutions because there are jobs that will never require a pair of human hands and the development does not show signs of getting slower. Just the opposite is happening, as robots get cleverer and handier they keep on moving to new areas of business, not avoiding even the work of the scientists, nerds or customer servants.

Following the discussion of the future of work in Finland, it seems that a lot of effort is put into making old models solve the new challenges. That will not happen, we think, and therefore we suggest a new design for thriving in the working life where in addition to humans there are several different artificial agents keeping the wheels of economic life and societies rolling.

Work Is Dying – Long Live Work!

Professor Richard Florida has shown  in his study ”Occupational and Industrial Distribution in Peterborough” that the number of jobs that include service and creativity will increase whereas jobs in the farming and manufacturing sectors will decrease to an extent that it is not reasonable to compile statistics in those fields anymore – even though growth is strong in those sectors. Somebody or something is working hard in farms and factories!

The former CEO of the International Federation of Robotics Dr. Shinsuke Sakakibara foresaw in 2013 that in the coming five years robots will create millions of high quality jobs – there where robots are used, we would like to add. The benefits of the development are seen for example in the US where Paul Krugman thanked robots for reshoring jobs to America ( . Reshoring seem to be trending in other countries too, thanks to robots and automation.

The window of opportunity is open. Robots and automation create new jobs, innovations, new companies and most important: new possibilities to solve the enormous global challenges we face in our times. However, the window might be closing. What happens when robots storm into service sector, offices and hospitals – places where we are used to see many post-industrial workers? The closing time for the window can be closer than we think – or want to believe. We need to get prepared.

Some politicians still hold on to a dream of a factory to where people swarm to work in five continuous shifts. We have bad news for those politicians: your dream will not come true. The first fully automated factories are running as well as fully robotized hotels. We can see the signs of the new world, now we need to act.

The Future of Work: From Worker to Investor

So, what is the future of work? Micro jobs, part-time jobs, entrepreneurship, these are some of the solutions presented, many of them are seen a part of sharing economy. However, will sharing economy be a sustainable solution? Even Uber that is often portrayed as a leading example of sharing economy have started to put a plan to use robots instead of people in action

Will entrepreneurship be a solution to guarantee jobs for all? Perhaps not. Not all want to become entrepreneurs and probably there will be companies that need human workers also in the future.

What about basic income? A guaranteed minimum income could be a part of the solution but it does not solve the challenges of globalizing, complex and fragmented job markets. We need new solutions to offer people possibility/possibilities to create a concept for work, a way to combine several jobs in a portfolio that provides economical means for living and wealth creation, inspiration and incentive to use their own capacities optimally and enough safety to enable freedom from fear of survival.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Please allow us to present Work as an Investment!

Work as an Investment means that a person offers her/his work to a company or organization in a same way as an investor invests in shares. During the investment, a dividend is payed, and if the investment is profitable, it can continue. If the investment does not create sufficient value it can be denounced and the company pays the ”price of the day” for the investor. WaaI includes incentives for both the ”employee” investor and the ”employer” or the organization where the investment is placed.

WaaI is a way of doing business with one’s competencies and capabilities. It is not a time-bank where people exchange tasks. It is not a way of crowdsourcing either, even though there are some similarities.

Work as an Investment is a new way of thinking work and job markets, it is based on business- and investment concepts. Elina Lepomäki, a Member of the Finnish Parliament, writes: ” … a direct or indirect border-crossing trade of anybody’s competence is going on. There will be work only for those who have something to give in their domain and can provide it with a market price.”

WaaI is a tool for human beings to deal with their work input like an investor. The work input can be invested in several organizations and by so means build an investment portfolio where the capital produces best interest and grows optimally.

From CV to the competence portfolio

For workers it should be useful to assess their own skills and capabilities in relation to their factual (1) core work knowledge, (2) customer-specific knowledge and (3) strategic competence and knowledge. Each individual has his or her own competence portfolio. They negotiate and make work contracts in the labor market based on their own personal competence portfolio.

On the other hand, each has its own employee talent portfolio, which they can develop through training, education and self-improvement. When an employee goes to work for any organization, new work represents an opportunity to develop his/her competence portfolio more versatile and add something valuable to their own competence portfolio. Also, the employer has the chance to develop the whole company’s total human/intelligence capital portfolio. In the best case both parties will benefit based on Win-Win principle, i.e. the employee can increase the value of his/her competence portfolio and the employer receives an additional contribution to the knowledge-based capital portfolio. In addition, this kind of competence portfolio may be the great possibility for a wide range of investment opportunities and business agreements.

Like in the business world, start-ups and companies develop new business models, workers should also develop new kind of competence portfolio models, which help them to diversify risks and work investments in their personal life. Modern portfolio theory (MPT) is a theory on how risk-averse investors can construct portfolios to optimize or maximize expected return based on a given level of market risk, emphasizing that risk is an inherent part of higher reward. This kind of MPT thinking can be applied also to work markets, where workers invest in their competence portfolios. Why we allow risk management based concept/model? On the MPT for companies, but we do not allow the MPT for workers? Indeed, the WaaI model allows portfolio thinking for all workers.

Like in stock markets investors invest in many companies, WaaI suggest that workers could invest their work input in several companies. A WaaI -investor can have a number of human capital portfolio contracts. This requires, of course, that the investors’s and the company’s roles are very clear, which is  not always true in the conventional labor market.

There are also many trainers and educational organizations, that can be involved in the contract and competence portfolio model. For example, today through crowdsourcing business models citizens will reach very “divergent model” agreements in the labor market. Actually, some of these new contract models are not particularly fair. If you want to see work as an investment, it requires a kind of an investment agreement with an investment commitment to a genuine on both sides of portfolio contractors. Admittedly, new research is needed to clarify the operating work contract models in which both workers and employers are free to agree on the terms of the work carried out. In the very traditional model of “paid work”, involved parties do not have a clear idea of the portfolio investment model, which makes it a high-risk contract model in the rapidly changing labor markets. The traditional model of “paid work” or employment also displaces many people from the labor market, if they are not ready to set up their own companies. This is a real problem in the freelancer work market.

A useful model to understand the key components of competence portfolio was developed by Professor John Holland when the RIASEC personality model was formulated. According to this model, people´s orientation can be classified as Realistic (Realistic), Investigating (Investigative), Artistic (Artistic), Social (Social), Enterprising (Enterprising) and Conventional (Conventional). This model has proven to be useful and reliable scientific basis as a model example of competence portfolio with strong career planning point of view. When the work is seen as an investment, the WaaI model can help people in their career planning and support people’s inherent personality traits and talents.

Figure 1 shows an integrated WaaI model with key elements: (1) Human capital classification of core work knowledge customer knowledge and strategic skills knowledge, (2) human personality and competence model based on Holland’s RIASEC model, and (3) competence & qualifications needs analysis of organizations and companies, which should have a very clear connection with companies needing core work knowledge, customer knowledge and strategic skill knowledge.


This kind of integrated WaaI model could be useful, for example, when labor unions, public agencies and private agencies want to develop effective local bargaining system (in Finland?). This conceptual model would also help to orient training and educational organizations providing the right kind of core work knowledge, customer knowledge and strategic knowledge. In Finland, the key challenge is to form a correct big picture of the knowledge capital of future(s?) of labor markets. In addition, correct precision training of national talent pool is by no means an easy thing to accomplish. Integrated WaaI model and the associated WaaI -portfolio competence model could be an effective and realistic approach to these future challenges.

Digital applications WaaI’s tools

In Finland, which is modern knowledge and innovation society, we can easily develop new intelligent digital applications, that  would help to improve matching of firms and employees to the knowledge capital in a rapidly changing global labor market. Work as an Investment model could be a more realistic way of working in the changed social circumstances. The local intelligent bargaining model of labor markets, which functions digitally, could be sufficiently ambitious and bright model for the future developments of the labor market.

WaaI is a new social innovation. All sides of labor market stakeholders can benefit from WaaI in a big way. Like all inventions, the WaaI model also calls people for the further developments and piloting. After WaaI 1.0 comes WaaI 2.0. Nowadays, when more labor market flexibility is much desired, we need more dynamic experiment cultures and courage to make a new WaaI idea function in changing realities of work markets.

Helsinki 8.3.2016

Cristina Andersson and Jari Kaivo-oja

More information:

Bridgstock, R. (2009) The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: enhancing graduate

employability through career management skills. Higher Education Research & Development

28(1), 31–44.

Eby, L., Butts, M., & Lockwood, A. (2003) Predictors of success in the era of the boundaryless

career. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24(6), 689–708.

Foray, D., & Lundvall, B. (1996). The knowledge-based economy: From the economics of

knowledge to the learning economy. In Employment and growth in the knowledge-based

economy. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Harvey, L. (2001) Defining and measuring employability. Quality in Higher Education, 7(2),


Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Jones, C., & deFillippi, R.J. (1996). Back to the future in film: Combining industry and selfknowledge

to meet the career challenges of the twenty-first century. Academy of Management Executive, 10(4), 89–103.

Mind Tools (2016) Holland’s Codes. Shaping a Career That Suits Your Personality

Smart, J. C. (2010) Differential patterns of change and stability in student learning outcomes in Holland’s academic environments: The role of environmental consistency. Research in Higher Education, 51, 468-482.

Smart, J. C., Feldman, K. A., & Ethington, C. A. (2006) Holland’s Theory and Patterns of College Success, Commissioned Report for the National Symposium on Postsecondary student success: Spearheading a dialog on student success, National Postsecondary Educational Cooperative.

Smart, J. C., Feldman, K. A., & Ethington, C. A. (2000) Academic disciplines: Holland’s theory and the study of college students and faculty. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

Smart, J. C., & McLaughlin, G. W. (1974) Variations in goal priorities of academic departments: A test of Holland’s theory. Research in Higher Education, 2, 377-390.

Tracey, T. J. (2008) Adherence to RIASEC structure as a key decision construct. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55, 146–157.

Florida, Richard, (2013) Occupational and Industrial Distribution in Peterborough:  A Benchmark and Comparison Study. Martin Prosperity Institute.

Monipaikkatyö vai muuttoauto, Outi Lammin blogi 22.1.2016

Suomella yllättävän hyvät aseet robottien vallankumoukseen, Yle 24.1.2016

Robotization Changes Everything

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Cristina Andersson: Robots will free us from routine work

Fujitsu Net 1/2014,  2014-04-16

Digitalization is swiftly transforming work and society. However, this is just the beginning. The next step is robotization.

Robotization is a globally rising trend that is hardly discussed in Finland. This was one of the starting points for Cristina Andersson and Jari Kaivo-oja’s book titled Boho Business released a couple of years ago. Last November they participated in organizing the first ever robotics week in Finland. Now, a consortium named Robotics Finland is being established for businesses and organizations within this industry.

In Cristina Andersson’s opinion, Finland is too fixated on just digitalization – people think it will suffice.

”Robots turn digital data into physical actions. A robot is an actor, just like a human being is”, Andersson says.

She points out that the evolving technology will have a major impact on society… read the entire story.

Setting up the sails

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