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Timo Honkela

Born August 4, 1962, Kalajoki, died May 5, 2020

Master of Arts 1989 (computer science), University of Oulu
PhD 1998 (information technology), Helsinki University of Technology

Professor of Research into Digital Materials, University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland, 2014–
Chief Research Scientist 2006–13, Helsinki University of Technology/Aalto University
Acting Professor 2003–05, Helsinki University of Technology
CEO and Director of Research 2000–02, Gurusoft Oy
Professor 1998–2000, Helsinki School of Arts and Design
Researcher 1994–99, Helsinki University of Technology
Researcher 1990–94, Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)
Researcher 1987–89, Sitra
Research Associate and Lecturer 1985–87, University of Oulu

Research themes:
Computational semantics and pragmatics, socio-cognitive modelling, the philosophy of artificial intelligence and its applications in the humanities and social sciences

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Written by Timo Honkela (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Experiences from Life and the University

2014 and 2015 have been tempestuous, both in the life of professor Honkela and in society in general. One of the world’s most experienced neurosurgeons, Juha Hernesniemi, also a professor at the University of Helsinki, removed a tumour found in the visual cortex of Timo Honkela’s brain in December 2014. The operation went well, and Honkela was able to return to work in autumn 2015.

In 2014, the rector of the University of Helsinki tasked the VISIO400 team with charting out the University’s prospects over the next 25 years. Honkela was appointed to the team and was active even during his convalescence. The VISIO400 team, led by Dean Anna Mauranen, handed over their report to Rector Jukka Kola in September 2015. The team has since been active by, for example, preparing a public statement, at the initiative of Honkela, emphasising the important role University research and education plays in society. Honkela has been involved with discussions on University strategy since he became a member of the University Collegiate in 2014. In 2014, Honkela participated in a working group that laid down the principles of the University’s data policy.

Over the years Timo Honkela has held various positions of trust in learned societies. These earlier posts include the chairmanship of the Finnish Artificial Intelligence Society, the vice-chairmanship of the Finnish Cognitive Linguistics Association, board membership of the European Neural Networks Society, and membership on the editorial staff of the scientific magazine Tieteessä tapahtuu. In this last position, Honkela was instrumental in the publication of a series of articles on science and its interaction with society.

A statement on behalf of university research and education based on a report by the League of European Research Universities (LERU). Photo and editing by Timo Honkela.


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