Human meets Machine – bright or bleak future?

Helsinki / Tiedekulma 4, Yliopistonkatu
Finland 18 October 2018
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Digitalisation advances forcefully, renewing industries and services and offering numerous opportunities to everyday life. Global labour markets and the future of poverty may be profoundly transformed by the fourth industrial revolution.

Will democracy disappear in a control society made possible by the total reach of the Internet? Will singularising artificial intelligence enable sustainable development or is it a seed of catastrophe? How will automation affect the Global South?

The seminar will address these acute and challenging questions in two separate discussions. The event is held in English and is open to everyone. Welcome!


Is technology a threat to democracy? Can anything be kept private anymore? Can we rely on artificial intelligence in situations, which require moral decision making?

The first part of the event will discuss how technological advances affect democracy and privacy. Technology enables deeper surveillance than ever before. It offers authoritarian regimes new tools to control their own citizens and to influence politics abroad. At the same time, technology offers tools for resistance.


- Dr. Matti Aksela, Vice President, Artificial Intelligence, F-Secure
- Prof. Barry Gills, Development Studies, University of Helsinki
- Dr. Michael Laakasuo, Postdoctoral Researcher, Moralities of Intelligent Machines, University of Helsinki
- Dr. Elina Sinkkonen, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs


How will the so called fourth industrial revolution affect the Global South? What might the impacts be on labour, poverty and human rights? What does this mean for development policy? How can we better understand and analyse the gender aspects?

In Cambodia, the International Labour Organisation estimates that 88% of jobs in the garment industry are at high risk of automation. Over 70% of the workers are women. At the same time, many African countries’ official development strategies rely on labour-intensive industrialisation.

Technology is shaping economies in many ways. The objective is to open a discussion on this topic that will greatly affect the Global South, as well as development policy.


- Dr. Sam Jones, Research Fellow, UNU-WIDER
- Dr. Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Associate Professor of Social Sustainability of Urban Transformations in the Global South, University of Helsinki
- Doctoral candidate Anna Salmivaara, Development Studies, University of Helsinki
- Dr. Nikodemus Solitander, Postdoctoral Researcher in Supply Chain Management and Social Responsibility, Hanken School of Economics


The organisers are the discipline of Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Society for Development Research, Pekka Kuusi Ecofoundation, and Demos Helsinki. Contribution by UNU-WIDER (The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research) is greatly appreciated.

The event will be chaired by Lyydia Kilpi, Finnish Society for Development Research.

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