The Whole World Is Watching

Who: Risto Linturi
Affiliation: Chairman, R. Linturi PLC; former technology director, Helsinki Telephone Co.
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Risto Linturi has seen the future, and it’s filled with objects — from street signs to taxis to your glasses — that can see and sense the world. “We will be able to install video cameras inside all of our gadgets,” he says. “With those extra eyes, we’ll be able to see remotely what the situation is at our cottage or in our office. We may be able to get rid of traffic signs because they’ll be viewed from electronic windshields.”

That’s just the beginning of the changes that he sees. “It used to be that we only saw what was near us,” Linturi notes. “In the future, with global positioning, augmented-reality glasses, and other such technologies, we will possess entirely new capabilities. We will see things that are not near us and see properties of things that we could not see before.”

Far-fetched? Not to Linturi, an influential futurist, consultant, and venture capitalist in Finland, perhaps the world’s most advanced society in terms of mobile technology. The risk in the rise of what has been called the “transparent society” is the erosion of individual privacy. And while Linturi certainly sees the dangers of a new Big Brother, he also sees the newfangled promise of “little brothers”: millions of individuals who can “look through any keyhole” to spot threats. “I prefer the idea of neighbors watching out for neighbors, as opposed to the government always watching us,” Linturi says. “It worked quite well in the days of small villages.”

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