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Data saves and enslaves

In this scenario, confidence in existing international institutions is shaking.

Data saves and enslaves scenario in brief

Citizens demand Global Empowerment for global challenges. A forum for global citizens ' initiatives and a direction towards decision-making by AI and algorithms. Power fragmentation and strengthened digital tribes undermine the status of the nation state.

The need for labour is reduced with radical technological advances and traditional wage work gradually loses its significance. The sharing economy will be strengthened and new earning opportunities will also be created when companies start racing in the personal data of their customers. People learn to exploit their data in the earning sense. In the end, only a few have the chance to break away from the digital devices. A new class division based on Digitity is emerging.

The global economy is draging. The financial world is shaky after Brexit and the deteriorating consumer confidence. Cryptocurrencies are sought for security and are becoming more widespread across the globe. The reliability of cryptocurrencies is increasing and they gradually replace the traditional central bank currency.

Future scenarios

The scenarios presented here are descriptions of potential future scenarios of the external operating environment concerning Finland's competitiveness from the present until 2030.

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  • Climate strikes rise and criticism of slow decision-making grow louder across the world, particularly when it comes to climate issues. Climate radicalism among young people intensifies into riots around the world. Calls for a new way to vote globally on global problems starts to get ground.
  • Brexit shakes the structures of Europe. The financial industry is shaken up as banks look for a new base after London. The uncertain economic climate and trade war lead to a global slowdown and recession.
  • The powerlessness of institutions is realized and the multilateral system is eroded. International institutions such as the WTO, the IMF and the UN lose their funding and significance.
  • As the power of nation states and international institutions weakens, the regulation of technology companies is weak and the ethical issues related to technological progress and AI, in particular, are given less attention.
  • Radical development of AI and robotics: Advanced robotics reduce the need for labor steadily across the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
  • Cryptocurrencies grow in popularity as alternative investments. Various payment applications, such as Swish, are increasingly widely used. Facebook's Libra becomes a commonly used currency in the platform economy. The reliability of cryptocurrencies increases.
  • Cryptocurrencies are first taken into widespread use in Africa, where trust in banks is low. The platform-based economy provides a more equal starting point for people in the developing world to earn an income.
  • EU makes significant investments in food production innovations and regulations on food production are eased.
  • Enthusiasm for self-tracking increases. The young digitally proficient data elite lives in a bubble. Individualistic and clan-oriented thinking leads to the emergence of strong societies online. Identity is shaped through these online groups.
  • The weakening of national identity and the strengthening of global subculture identity.
  • Consumption declines and the focus shifts to intangible consumption. The significance of eco-status strengthens.


  • The failure of climate agreements and climate actions leads to international institutions completely losing their significance and direct democracy becoming more popular.
  • Global citizens' initiatives and direct digital democracy solutions become increasingly commonplace and more impactful. This presents a growing group of people with opportunities for exercising influence in areas such as climate decisions. A growing number of international and location-independent ideological movements emerge.
  • Quantum computing develops rapidly and brings significant improvements to the use of data. Among other things, this enables public services to be automatically and efficiently targeted at the individual level. The individual's responsibility in society increases.
  • Competition between companies for people's private data begins and people learn to put a price on their data. This creates the illusion of owning and controlling one's personal data. Pharmaceutical companies pay people for measurement data and Netflix pays viewers for monitoring data. Virtual business based on data increases.
  • Individualization and personalized products become increasingly common and consumer power grows.
  • Interest in cryptocurrencies increases among institutional investors. A financial crisis drives people to seek shelter in cryptocurrencies, which challenge currencies issued by central banks.
  • The data economy has a polarizing effect. People with low incomes earn their income by generating data for corporations and only the wealthy can afford not to use social media services, for example. Analog life and anonymity become new status symbols.
  • New food production methods are developed and optimization based on nutritional values increases as solutions to the food crisis are sought. Protein is partly produced using methods that conserve resources (bioreactors and protein out of air).
  • Automation accelerates, self-driving vehicles and manufacturing robots are mainstreaming.


  • Artificial intelligence is increasingly used in the evaluation and creation of citizens' initiatives. People realize that AI-assisted decisions are better than expected (legitimacy), but negative aspects also emerge. Ethical issues remain unresolved and the manipulation and falsification of data becomes more common as a means of influence (fake data).
  • Political advocacy is further transformed to the direction where companies and politicians constantly try to influence the decision-making of individuals, only now with more powerful technology.
  • Blockchain-based digital identity (and citizenship) is more used in digital transactions.
  • The shift to a one-day work week occurs widely and people are haunted by the specter of uselessness. The significance of work as a factor that binds the individual to society diminishes.
  • In the data economy of the useless, identity is shaped by the online groups one belongs to, for example. Value creation — and, as a result, earning an income — is no longer based on the production and consumption of goods as much as interaction and exchange between people.
  • The opportunities in an extensively digitalized world include removing oneself from urban structures and living anywhere, irrespective of the place of employment, language or culture.
  • Owning and managing one's data becomes a civic skill that is used to prevent exclusion from the data economy and provide everyone with the opportunity to earn an income.
  • The people who are unable to take advantage of their own personal data for one reason or another are in the weakest position. Polarization depends more on competence and less on geographic factors. Digital rehab clinics and digital detox destinations grow in popularity.
  • Robotics and AI solve challenges in healthcare.
  • The resource-efficient optimization of food production is enabled by increased knowledge and transparency. New food production methods partially solve the problem of growing global demand for food.
  • A shift from currency issued by central banks to a global cryptocurrency.

Implications for Finland

Data saves and enslaves – the power of the state and traditional institutions wanes also in Finland

Similar to other countries, Finland suffers from the monetary and financial crisis spreading from Europe at the beginning of the decade. 

High-quality data give Finland a competitive edge in the radical data economy (e.g. health data, data collected over long periods of time).


The importance of traditional parties has declined. Change is sought through single-issue popular movements, which operate digitally, independent of location. Methods of direct democracy enabled by new technologies are in use. Artificial intelligence is widely employed in legislative drafting and decision-making.


National and international regulation decreases substantially. Companies are under constant evaluation and review on social media and other platforms used by individuals. Movements, strikes and boycotts spread rapidly.


Increasing data volumes enable the location of recyclable materials to be pinpointed with ever greater accuracy. Finland sees a breakthrough of sharing economy platforms in the daily life of consumers. Adoption of circular economy innovations increases also in the business operations of service companies and industrial operators.


Entrepreneurial activity in the job market increases as people earn an income by making use of their personal data. Societal concepts and structures related to work and unemployment have been revised.

As the significance of work decreases, the role of the job markets and labor costs in companies' location decisions also declines. Finland can compete on high-quality data and a favorable climate from the perspective of climate change. The cleanness and price of energy are also increasingly important factors in location decisions.

The continued development of VR technology and decrease in working hours increase the popularity of homes in sparsely populated areas.


Labor market organizations lose their importance, as people turn to global platforms in search of support for the transformation of work. Organizations find new roles providing education for the data economy and (mini) entrepreneurship.

Lobbies disappear in many sectors, as the sectoral division is redefined.


Global crowdfunding projects have taken on a clearly more significant role in the capital markets. Cryptocurrency has also become something of a replacement for share issue (in platform economy companies). Funding is readily available for new technologies, while traditional industrial sectors have difficulties securing funding due to their insecure outlook. The European financial crisis affects Finland as major long-standing Nordic banks go bankrupt.


As elsewhere, digital competence grows increasingly important in Finland and the goal is to provide everyone with the basic skills needed to function in the data economy. Learning content related to data ownership, data management and artificial intelligence is added to the national core curriculum.

Implications for key industries

Consumer and investor pressure boost the competitiveness of the bio and circular economy. Product manufacture becomes more transparent. Platforms and data provide information on the location of recyclable materials.

Data enable negative aspects such as environmental nuisance to be considered in product prices. The accurate real-time measurement of carbon sinks becomes possible, affecting the use of forests as raw material.

Few people can afford to eat real meat or fish, and artificially produced food constitutes most of the diet for the middle class.

A focus on local production emerges and urban farming, backyard production and local food are the prevailing trends.

Energy and cleantech

Affordable technology gives a growing number of consumers the opportunity to produce energy themselves, and conflicts increase between consumer-producers and traditional energy companies.

Energy is linked to identity policy. The shift to a self-sufficiency economy sees the establishment of local energy rings and energy cooperatives. Self-determination concerning data becomes a prominent concept in service marketing.

States lose their hold on the energy infrastructure, and the development of energy transmission and delivery networks is left to the industrial sector. Heavy industry relocates in pursuit of the cheapest energy and most functional networks. Protecting networks from cyber attacks is a key issue for industry.

Mobility as a service sees explosive growth. The elite use their own bicycles and low-emission vehicles to facilitate their mobility outside the data network. The masses, in turn, use digital mobility services offered by large service providers. As the public administration becomes weaker, the maintenance and development of logistics infrastructure becomes a global problem.

Health and wellbeing

The use of AI and robotics in healthcare develops by great leaps and becomes increasingly commonplace.

Individuals control and manage their own health data and they can decide what is measured and what the data is used for. Paying for health data increases the amount of data but, at the same time, concerns arise about the quality of data.

The individual's responsibility is highlighted when technology and measurement become available for those who want and can afford it but are not mandatory. Insurance companies offer benefits to people with healthy lifestyles. Healthcare is personalized.

Nutrition and medication can be optimized at the individual level, and increasingly common 3D printing challenges medical regulation. Growth in platform-based business models based on personalization.

Consumer business and tourism

Individualization and personalized products become increasingly common and consumer power grows. Data is used as an instrument of exchange and to acquire services and products. Sharing economy platforms make a breakthrough in the daily life of consumers.

New food production technologies are developed rapidly. Data is used extensively to optimize food production and efforts to reduce food waste are successful. Customized and personalized diets become increasingly common.

Retailers become an unnecessary intermediary between food and the consumer. Food is automatically delivered to the doorstep based on data disclosed by users.

Made to order operating models emerge, for example in clothes manufacture, reducing the disposal of finished products.

The share of independent travelers grows. Virtual travel increases, replacing physical travel to a certain extent.

The distribution of income is imbalanced. People have more free time globally but purchasing power declines.


The MyData movement gathers strength. A data exchange emerges when the value of data is recognized in various business environments and it becomes possible to trade data under the same logic as the stock markets. Individuals decide to whom, and for what use, they sell their data. Data brokers act as intermediaries.

The ethical nature of technological development is not monitored. Personalization, fragmentation and tribalization lead to the emergence of mini-markets where even small operators can thrive. The significance of blockchain technologies increases and they are widely used in contexts where third-party verification is necessary.

Many cities introduce advanced sensor technology, which enables infrastructure costs to be allocated at the individual level, for example.

Multiple cryptocurrencies are in widespread use. In an individualized and tribalized culture, currency is one way of expressing one's identity. Companies may offer their services only in one currency and thereby practically exclude certain groups from their customer base. The shift to cryptocurrencies also increases the risk of cyber attacks at the individual level.


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