• Timo Savolainen

The Shining Light of Digitalisation

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

We are all part of an invisible global network. It orchestrates millions of people to bring pens to our table and billions to participate in the global economy and in informal exchange of ideas in the Internet. This network is visible to us locally in the interactions we all have - and some part of this is visible in aggregate measured as prices on stock exchanges and tonnage of goods being transported from one part of the world to another. 

However, by and large, much of this network is invisible - or rather it has been invisible, but is becoming visible as data that is stored, processed, and reused due to the next phase of digitalization. 

This changes the fundaments of our societies and global economy. It has already killed much of what used to be known as privacy and it has eliminated or reduced the advantages many traditional incumbents have in their field, since much of this advantage relies on tacit knowledge about the needs and structures of the respective industry - all of which can be resolved with the application of right data in the right time and place. 

The first phase of today’s digital tsunami is and has been about the ability to sense and store those amounts of information. That part is largely here already. 

The second phase is about our ability to process this information. We have only scratched the surface of this change. The algorithms for understanding this global web are already good enough to target advertisements, but they are not (yet) good enough to provide useful and meaningful secretary service. There is still a gap between our ability to collect data and to utilize it even though the advances in data science have pushed us forward in the past decade. 

Digitalization has already shone light to this global network.,However, this information is still fragmented and stored in silos, which makes it largely unusable. This issue is one of the driving forces in the feudalisation of the Internet as the only way to make this work is for one organization to amass all that information for itself. 

We have largely failed to think of our society from the future. Instead, we look to the good things we have had and see if they could be saved through this era of sweeping change. 

What would it take to build a society where it was realistic for all that information to be available for those who need it? What kind of markets do we need to make it possible for information producers to provide that data to others? What are the technological and business breakthroughs needed? And what kind of structures do we need in the society to create the free and democratic societies for the future?  Author:

Mikko Särelä, Adviser, Innovation Policy, TEK

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