Social Club participant trying out VR during the event at The Great Northern in Skellefteå. Martin Gudmundson from Hello Future instructs.

“We want to spread knowledge about digitalization to as many people as possible”

Interview with Leif Rehnström, CEO at Hello Future, the digital transformation consultancy behind the Hello Future Social Club initiative. The interview is transcribed from Swedish Radio, P4 Västerbotten, broadcast on February 20th, 2017.

Mikael Hermansson: A while back your company launched the initiative ‘Social Club’; discussion clubs to share knowledge, questions and concerns about digitalization and globalization. What will you talk about during today’s social club for senior citizens?

Leif Rehnström: Today we will discuss the concepts of augmented reality and virtual reality and show some examples of opportunities and scenarios with this type of technology.

Leif Rehnström

Filippa Armstrong: Today young people are born and raised in the digital age, but there’s still a gap to the older generation. How should we bridge that gap?

LR: Well, to start with, it’s not just a matter of age. Among younger people, there are also many who lack understanding of how digitalization affects their lives. Looking specifically at older people, there are lots of organizations arranging events and activities for seniors. It would be good to get them to work with these issues and make more companies like us do nonprofit work around the topics of digitalization and technology.

MH: What risks do you see of people being left behind by digitalization?

“Society is increasingly built from code, rather than concrete”

LR: Today, society is increasingly built from code, rather than concrete. So if you don’t see that change, and doesn’t understand how it will affect the world, that will become a problem. It will mean that some people will struggle to participate in how society develops, which in the long run is bad.

Photo from the Social Club for senior citizens at The Great Northern, Skellefteå Sweden

FA: Should it be a requirement to be more involved in our digital world?

LR: Yes, I think so. Perhaps not for each individual, but from a societal and democratic perspective it’s crucial that as many people as possible, regardless of how old they are, where they live or where they’re born, should have the possibility to understand, think and contribute to moving the world in a good direction and feel involved in it.

MH: You and your company want to create a grassroots movement where everyone is invited to join the conversation. In the long run, what are you hoping to achieve with this initiative?

LR: The reason we started this is to fight the digital divide. Initially, when the concept was coined globally, it referred to whether or not you had access to broadband, but today that’s less of an issue. A bigger issue is the gap between those who have the most knowledge about digitalization, which is four of the six biggest corporations in the world, all located in Silicon Valley, and the rest of us. How can the rest of the world benefit from this knowledge and these opportunities? Or should we let a small region in the United States rule our lives? That doesn’t make sense. Our hope with this initiative, and other initiatives we’re involved in, is to create a bit of a Robin Hood movement. We want to take the best existing knowledge about digitalization and distribute it more widely so that everyone can access its benefits.

FA: And one step towards that will be taken at The Great Northern in Skellefteå today. Thank you very much Leif Rehnström.

LR: Thanks.

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Do you want to leran more about Hello Future Social Club? You’re more than welcome to join the Facebook group!

The recorded interview can be found here (in Swedish).