Space technology in geopolitics: Insights from Tuija Karanko, Secretary General of PIA, Finnish Defence and Aerospace Industries

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read
Space technology in geopolitics: Insights from Tuija Karanko, Secretary General of PIA, Finnish Defence and Aerospace Industries

In these articles, we explore the current in technological advancements, socio-economic trends, dynamic geopolitics, and the role of space technology in shaping them. To discuss the increased role of space technology in national security, we sat down with Tuija Karanko, Secretary General of PIA, who was recently appointed as Vice Chair of the NATO Industrial Advisory Group. Here's a deep dive into our conversation.

Situational awareness and critical communications

According to Karanko, current advancements in space technology significantly contribute to enhancing national security and global stability. One major aspect highlighted is situational awareness. The ability to access real-time or near-real-time information about tactical and strategic landscapes is vital for today’s defence needs. Secondly, communications play an important role in ensuring seamless operations during challenging circumstances. Satellite communications offer a resilient and redundant communication infrastructure, essential for maintaining connectivity even in hostile environments.

Impact on geopolitics and socioeconomics

Not only does space technology influence defence capabilities but it also shapes broader geopolitical dynamics and socio-economic trends. By providing access to information and connectivity, space-based applications contribute to bridging socio-economic disparities. Karanko suggests the socioeconomic impact of space technology in different regions could, therefore, accelerate equality.

“Global connectivity enables people to seek better opportunities in life. This is where space-based communications, could work as an equaliser. These developments make me recall Nokia’s famous catchphrase: ‘Connecting people.’ Just imagine, people living in remote areas could have access to the same information as everyone else.”

Moreover, space technology enables countries to address various challenges, from infrastructure development to climate change mitigation. Understanding the current trends in space-based applications and their impact on different sectors is crucial for harnessing the full potential of space technology.

Challenges and opportunities with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As AI continues to advance, its integration with space technology opens new possibilities and challenges. Karanko highlights the potential of AI in enhancing defence systems' capabilities, from production to predictive maintenance.

“AI is revolutionising defence solutions,” Karanko states. “It is offering enhanced production capabilities, system autonomy, and lifecycle support.” While AI presents opportunities for efficiency and effectiveness, it also poses challenges and threats in terms of regulatory control and ethical considerations, especially in the context of autonomous weapon systems.

Karanko emphasises that the rapid development of AI and regulatory frameworks are linked to one another:

“We are already seeing a delay in regulations keeping up with technological developments. This trend will continue and as technology evolves even more rapidly, the regulatory framework will lag even further behind. However, we must learn to live in this environment and it's important for countries such as Finland to promote international agreements in the technological domain.’’

Cyber threats in space-based communication

Securing space-based communication channels is essential for national security in an era of more sophisticated cyber threats. Karanko underlines the importance of collaboration between space and cyber companies to develop robust cybersecurity measures together. Additionally, Karanko highlights the need for proactive measures to mitigate cyber risks, such as comprehensive cybersecurity protocols. Understanding the current vulnerabilities in space-based communication systems is essential for developing effective cybersecurity strategies.

Looking ahead

Our conversation with Tuija Karanko shed light on the role of space-based assets in shaping the evolving geopolitical landscape.

“Space technology works as a pivotal instrument in shaping national security, global stability, and socioeconomic development,” concludes Karanko.

Through strategic collaborations and responsible governance, we can harness the potential of space technology while mitigating inherent risks. Furthermore, fostering innovation and paying attention to ethical standards enables us to pave the way for a future where space serves as a beacon of progress, unity, and resilience in today’s dynamic environment.

Headshot of Tuija Karanko Secretary General of PIA
Tuija Karanko



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