Maria Höyssä has a busy schedule and it is not easy to get a meeting with her. Together with the Committee Counsel, she provides substantive support to the Committee for the Future. The Committee is not an independent institution like the Rathenau Instituut, but a standing committee of the Finnish Parliament. It was established some 30 years ago to deal with the long-term development of Finland. All 17 members are parliamentarians.
What is the most important subject your committee is working on right now?
Next month, our government will publish its new Future Report. In the early 1990s, Parliament stipulated that the government should publish a report on the long-term development of our country in each legislative period. The Committee for the Future responds to this with its own report containing recommendations and resolutions. These resolutions are its most powerful weapon because the government has to follow up on them. The committee is also completing a report on artificial intelligence, AI. That was its own initiative. Last year, the committee asked 15 experts from universities and other institutions to each write a short article on a part of AI or a particular application of it. This ranges from healthcare to deepfakes and autonomous robots. The articles must be accessible to laymen.
What is the report’s target audience?
The main purpose is to inform the committee members themselves. Most reports we issue have a foreword that all committee members sign. This ensures that they feel committed to it. They often use the content when they go public, through social media, for example. Committee members can use the knowledge from such a report when preparing a reaction to the government's Future Report, or in the other parliamentary committees in which they are active, in this or, perhaps, the next parliamentary term. When we were working on a report on AI last year, the European Commission presented five proposals on AI or digitalisation in Brussels. The committee in our Parliament dealing with European Affairs asked Committee for the Future’s statement on this. They did so too when the EU came up with a plan to strengthen strategic foresight. Besides using the statement internally, they even translated it and sent it to Brussels. Also Education and Culture Committee and Transport and Communications committee regularly handle issues where statements of Committee for the Future are relevant, and vice versa.