Opinion

Learning for a lifetime

James O'Sullivan

Editor-in-chief, Good News from Finland

25.08.2021

When Finland completed its EU Presidency in 2019, it did something that was very Finnish: it made another concerted effort to invest in the future, through education.

Originally launched the previous year in a handful of languages, Finland pledged to make the free Elements of AI online course available in the languages of all EU member states.

Walking participants through the ABCs of artificial intelligence, the course arrived at a time when AI was imposing greater prominence on our lives than ever before. Although AI often polarises opinions championing either a wonderment of efficiency or the Grim Reaper at our professional doorstep, the one certainty is that it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Its impact on society and work is of unforeseen magnitude.

fingers selecting a wooden block

It’s never too late to refresh one’s knowledge and skill set. Finland is providing people with the tools to formulate their own future – to skill up and get on board and at least have some concrete insight into what possibilities AI can present for them, now and in future. It is a way to engage people in what they perhaps don’t yet fully understand.

The gesture contained an extra layer of Finnishness in that the course was available to all, regardless of circumstances, location or age. The Elements of AI course manifested itself from the culture here of encouraging lifelong learning, accumulating skills and knowledge at any age to equip oneself with the tools needed to embrace new challenges.

Finland is providing people with the tools to formulate their own future.

Arriving on the cusp of the pandemic, the timing of this lesson couldn’t have been better. COVID’s wrecking ball has since emphasised the need for embracing the unknown, picking up new skills and educating oneself, readying oneself for a future that is suddenly upon us.

“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know,” Einstein once said. What more can one do, then, but continue filling this gap with knowledge and new skills.

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