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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

My Best Moments at the University of Helsinki

The opportunity to meet profound, sophisticated and empathetic people has been very important to me. These encounters include the analytically precise presentations given by Jaakko Hintikka, the edifying influence of Esa Saarinen, and the many conversations at ihmettelijöiden klubi (‘the wonderers club’) founded by Andrew Chesterman and Kirsti Lonka. Collaboration with Mika Pantzar has greatly added to my understanding of society, economics and communities. Together with Krista Lagus I have been able to develop many socio-cognitive themes.

Researchers Srikrishna Raamadhurai (on the left), Timo Honkela, Jari Kortelainen (Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences) and Jukka Kervinen tackling the basic concepts of the field at the digitalisation unit of the National Library in Mikkeli. Photo by Markus Mykkänen.

I have had the privilege of discussing research strategies as well as the place of research in society with people such as Anna Mauranen, Kari Raivio, Bengt Holmström, Pirjo Hiidenmaa and Syksy Räsänen.

The circle of people I have discussed languages with is so large that I can only mention a small fraction by name: Arto Mustajoki, Kimmo Koskenniemi, Jan-Ola Östman, Tiina Onikki-Rantajääskö, Fred Karlsson, Terttu Nevalainen, Liisa Tiittula, Atro Voutilainen, Matti Miestamo, Jörg Tiedemann and Jarno Raukko.

Kristiina Kalleinen and Mikko Tolonen have greatly increased my understanding of historical research.

I have been able to delve into the digitalisation process of libraries and human sciences with Kai Ekholm, Maj-Lis Bremer-Laamanen, Krister Lindén, Jukka Kervinen, Kimmo Kettunen, Tuula Pääkkönen, Kalervo Järvelin and Jessica Parland-von Essen.

Professor Timo Honkela (on the left) with the head librarian of the National Library of Finland Kai Ekholm, associate professor Mikko Tolonen and the head of the digitalisation and conservation centre of the National Library of Finland, Maj-Lis Bremer-Laamanen, at the 375th anniversary party of the National Library at the University of Helsinki on October 23, 2015. Photo by Nelli Honkela.

Ilkka Niiniluoto, Esa Saarinen, Matti Sintonen, Uskali Mäki, Tarja Knuuttila, Paavo Pylkkänen, Pentti Määttänen and Juha Himanka have all contributed to my understanding of philosophy, while my understanding of psychology and cognitive sciences has been furthered by Kirsti Lonka, Göte Nyman, Mauri Kaipainen, Ilkka Pyysiäinen and Kai Hakkarainen, and my knowledge in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence research has been increased by Aapo Hyvärinen, Samuel Kaski, Mikko Kurimo, Jorma Laaksonen, Erkki Oja, Tapani Raiko, Harri Valpola, Amaury Lendasse, Risto Linturi, Markus Koskala, Eero Hyvönen, Henry Tirri, Patrik Floréen, Hannu Toivonen and Petri Myllymäki. Hundreds of people, for example in international contexts, will unfortunately have to remain unmentioned here.

I feel a kinship with Aleksi Neuvonen in the endeavour to create a better world. Conversations and friendship with Aapo Hyvärinen cover a large area, from the philosophies of life and psychology to the methods of understanding the phenomena related to these fields. I should mention the formative influence that two professors from Oulu, Pentti Kerola and Kari Kuutti, exerted over me during my early studies, helping me gain new perspectives and adding depth to my thinking. Without the Academician Teuvo Kohonen, most of the work in my career would have been left undone because of deficiencies in my methods and the lack of a determined role model. I have been able to share the joys and challenges of research with my insightful spouse Nina Janasik-Honkela.

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