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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 Dream

I am hopeful that step by step the world will move towards being a better place, whether in terms of physical or mental health and wellbeing, the environment, interaction between individual people or at a societal level, or, for example, regarding how economies are arranged. Many intellectual, emotional and cultural developmental processes take decades and centuries, so it would be unrealistic to assume that wars, poverty, famine, loneliness, environmental catastrophes, contempt, cynicism etc. could pass into history in a matter of years. But a path that leads to this kind of a future is my dream.

Human understanding is growing with universities being the main cradle of progress. Human beings have an inherent ability for empathy, which can only be broken under extreme circumstances. The time of intelligent machines that work to help us is drawing near and gives further cause for optimism. Of course, the palette of the world holds all the colours, and the entire spectrum of human emotions will therefore still continue to be necessary in the future.

The ‘lion bird’, a metaphor used by Timo Honkela. Graphics by Nelli Honkela.


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