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President Kersti Kaljulaid's opening speech at Tallinn Music Week Conference on 31 March 2017


Welcome to Tallinn Music week!

The Tallinn Music Week is an interdisciplinary festival.

It's musical approach has always been to cross borders and fences, or deny that these fences even exist. The TMW is not dedicated to a specific style of music. Listeners are expected to keep an open and inquisitive mind and be prepared to listen to something they have never heard before, needed or even wanted to hear before.

The contribution made by the TMW to the society is exactly the same. There are no borders, no opposites, no fences. Creative thinking is creative thinking because it has no boundaries, whether it serves art or the entire society.

The routine way of thinking tends to go in opposites, mutually exclusive opposites. City or country? Urban or rural lifestyle? Comfortable or sustainable life? The young or the old? Career or children? Creative work or accounting? This limiting attitude is created by and is most suitable for societies where the key to success lies in opposition.

Unfortunately, our democratic process is also largely built on opposition, polarisation; and the higher the level of technical perfection achieved by the opposing process, the less room there is for crossing the fences and creatively generating compromises. Two-party systems are the first that have fallen foul to this phenomena – there is no longer space for the complex world in the debate.

Here in Estonia we should be more resilient with our proportionate model. Still, every time elections are approaching, also before local government elections, we see the same approach as well – is it going to be us or you?

I know here we will all try to be different this week. We will try to erase our customary thought patterns and try to find the common part.

In a world where, within a century, only horsecarts and petroleum lamps were made redundant for good, it was possible to have disputes about two views, two forecasts, two paths for development. You could choose to be liberal or conservative. You could lean left or you could lean right.

In a world where most of the state-of-the-art technologies become obsolete in 30, or more recently, even in three years, we can never expect to create value by long-term planning that relies on simplified assumptions and is therefore, by definition, too poor to predict how we should act. The time of 30-year plans for the future is over. However, the time of visions is not over. There are universal and wide principles which we can define and agree that we collectively want them and need them. These visions must mostly describe our dreams, and they can function in any technological or socio-economic formation.

We know the basics, luckily. We know that like us, our grandchildren will also have the humanistic desire to be happy. Only those who are free can be happy.

Only those who are educated can be free. There will be many free and happy people in the future only if they leave room for the dreams of others when making their own.

Technology will overcome some of the contradictions I mentioned at the beginning of this speech for us – renewable energy will prevail, we just don't know yet whether it will be achieved by importing energy from the sun-rich regions to our latitudes via long-distance DC cables or by the world of microproduction without any large network connections. The city and the country lose their meaning once jobs are no longer depend on our locations.

The future of work is changing, the peoples' roles on the labour market in next 20 years will be very different.

A person, not an enterprise, becomes the unity of economic development, working at the same time for different sectors and countries. The jobs that previously disappeared from agricultural are now disappearing from industry, some also from the traditional service sector. But every day offers new opportunities. What's really beautiful about this is that the new opportunities seem to be more democratic in their nature than in the customary model. Yes, we're surrounded by a complicated technological environment, but this environment does create opportunities for very simple ideas. Ideas that are not particularly high-flying can be born in this environment and grow very large. Of course, there are Skype and Cleveron, but also Uber, Airbnb and youtubers. There are people who like to provide niche services or products that is needed by enough people in the world to keep one provider going on the market if this market is global. Last century, you could not survive by making pieces of green glass into ear-rings. There simply were not enough takers in the physical environment surrounding you. But globally, there is enough, and reaching out to them is magnificently simple nowadays.

There is enough creative space for everyone.

Self-realisation is accessible to everyone interested in pursuing their dreams.

Our future is an explosive growth of individual opportunities. Where does this growth come from?

We must make these choices ourselves, together with our families, community and ultimately with the state and other countries. Happiness is the compass, the multitude of choices depends on education, but not always on the traditional education. Absolutely everything appears and disappears constantly all the time.

The task of your conference is pass this message on to our society and to our guests. Let's not be afraid! For as long as we have many different opinions, different ideas and thoughts, there will always be something that carries us to the future. If we look for one idea, one truth, one strategy, we will soon find ourselves in the fossil layer.

We can see here in Estonia the advantage of being a small country when running our state changes as quickly and flexibly as the society and technology. The whole social model must be reconsidered to give people reassurance. But it is increasingly more connected with supporting the inner security of people, their families and communities and less with the external feeling of security provided by the state.

When the time is up for the industry-based economic model, it is certainly up for the social models built on the logic of the same era. Because, only in Alice in Wonderland, does the cat disappear and the smile will stay on. When the world revolved around the constant reuse and recreation of the inventions of just few, the processes were predictable, education met the requirements of the labour market, and work, holidays and pension could be defined for decades in advance. When the human world creates new value on the basis of the diversity emerging from the creativity of the majority of individually operating people, where value creation is by definition intermittent, the social contributions and taxes paid will become similarly intermittent. The role of the state is to gather the intermittent tax streams and try to create a constant stream of support for people out of them. Obviously it will not be similar to what we know now.

Transition periods are always difficult and expensive, the only good thing is that the community will no longer be based on a single socio-economic formation the replacement of which could be perceived as an upheaval. The constant changing of many small worlds and adaptation to new technologies and new dreams is certainly smoother. The TMW is a good test polygon of the new society.

Here you can think away all contradictions and make room for all different opinions! Think about how to use technology to overcome contradictions and if that is not an option, then think how to talk yourselves and your conversation partners through the contradictions so that finally they will simply dissolve. Show us what a resourceful spirit and flexible mind can achieve! Show us also what a real campaign of the ideas to the benefit of our city, our Tallinn, idealistically could be! Raise the bar high, and then it will be good to see in autumn whether the traditional form of debate – local government elections – can jump that bar! Give us a strong benchmark!

Thank you for your attention!