On a small mountain farm in Rennebu, Norway, Silje Granum has collected what matters most to her: home, family, hobbies and and work. She’s miles from any urban centre.
“People often ask how I can sit out here and do what I do,” Granum laughs. “My answer is that I have internet. I also have a car.”
Granum runs a small consulting firm, Folksnakk, meaning ‘Talk of the town’ in Norwegian. It has one employee – herself. Helping other companies with business development and communications means you need to be both creative and have the right competence. For many, this requires working with others and having people around for discussions, learning and sharing experiences.
“I think the other way around. When you hang out with yourself most of the time, you’re forced to stay updated. Whenever there’s something I need to learn it’s a real driving-force for me,” she says.
“I spend time reading up on things. You have to be really curious, interested and updated in order to advise companies across different sectors. In addition to the classics, such as newspapers, blogs and TED-talks, there is a lot to learn from a new series on Netflix or even music. At least that's how my head works. I can be inspired by watching Westworld,” she says.
Popular culture is typically seen as a mirror on society and people, and hence a good source for both knowledge and inspiration combined. As an all-rounder, Granum doesn't get overwhelmed by the vast sources and resources of knowledge out there.
“I rarely encounter a theme or certain topic thinking that ‘this is super interesting because it is so relevant to me’. It’s more about putting bits and pieces together and making my own analysis of the information. Last year, I went to the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology fair in Austin, Texas. It was a dream coming true to be able to choose from such a gigantic program,” she recalls.
While at the festival, Granum was determined to spend her time productively. She devised her own program with a firm plan.Allowing for 10% of time spent in queues, she stuck to the following:
- 30% of the time on lectures that were relevant to specific projects and clients
- 30% of the time on overarching areas such as digitalization, communication, etc.
- 30% of the time dedicated to pure nerding
“Yeah, things that are just fun or weird! What surprised me was that the less obvious choices actually gave me the most. I think we all need to go outside our comfort zones now and then, in order to really learn something new, not just the topics that we think we should learn.”
On that note, when we meet Silje, she’s busy getting her head around the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
“I've done some work with AI companies in the neighboring city of Trondheim. It’s a little surprising to me that even the most cutting-edge tech companies often consist of very homogeneous groups of employees and are actually quite traditional,” she reflects.
“When it comes to ideas and input on how we use advanced technology, I think that more people should have an opinion. We all live in a tech community – even those of us residing at small mountain farms, far from towns and big cities.”
For Granum, it’s incumbent on all of us to gain more confidence in understanding these somewhat complex new areas.
“Technology is made by humans, and programmed by us. I’m fascinated by behavioural science: who we are as human beings and what comes with that. These are the things we need to understand to use and develop technology well,” she says.
In Granum’s case, she didn't follow her original dream of becoming a technologist, but now she's testing the recently translated artificial intelligence learning program, Elements of AI.
“I like that it's shaped like a small educational program, that it has substance and a path you must follow. Also, the timing is good: we need to raise awareness about this now!”
The last part of that sentence comes with both impatience and eagerness, repeating that the use of new technologies is shaped now and more of us need to both understand and give input into how it will affect us.
A curiosity like Silje’s would be a good place to start.
Elements of AI is a free online course translated into six languages, giving users the chance to dive into the basics of artificial intelligence. With support from Telenor, a Norwegian version of the course has been made available by the Norwegian Open AI Lab.
Also, in Norway, Telenor has joined a #delingsdugnad initiative together with other businesses and organisation to provide access to courses and learning resources for those out of work in the country as a result of Covid 19.
Produced by Telenor