EBS Anniversary Seminar presented top experts discussing AI and urbanization themes

In celebration of 35th anniversary, we organized a seminar dedicated to strategically important areas for EBS. The seminar "Building The New" addressed current topics such as data and artificial intelligence on one hand, and urbanization and city design on the other. Discussions revolved around how to make physical and digital spaces more sustainable and the impact of urban planning and space design on community development.

The anniversary seminar took place on December 7th in the EBS auditorium. The seminar " Building The New: How Data, Information and Urban Design Shape our Community, Growth, and Responsibility?" brought together top experts and featured Nobel Prize laureate, economics professor Bengt Holmström as a special guest.


Meelis Kitsing, Rector of EBS, commented on the seminar's inception and theme selection: “At EBS, we sense the current topics and challenges of businesses, communities, and society. We dedicated the anniversary seminar to the theme of responsible growth and development.


The first panel, "Data and Information – How to Achieve Breakthrough Growth?" was led by EBS Head of Development and Innovation Andreas Veispak as moderator. It unfolded a captivating discussion on the importance of data in global business, the role of artificial intelligence, its vast potential, and the risks associated with AI.


MIT economics professor and Nobel Prize laureate Bengt Holmström participated in the first panel. Holmström agreed with other panelists that the arrival of ChatGPT has dramatically changed the economy and the world and that the value generated by data is immense. Discussing the dangers of data and artificial intelligence domination, he mentioned that extreme centralization also brings significant vulnerability, as the collapse of one system can paralyze the entire society's functioning. He also talked about the challenges facing Europe in the global race for artificial intelligence. Compared to the USA and especially China, Europe has fallen behind in technological development and is entangled in its regulations, historical legacy, and systems developed over decades.


Holmström stated, "Estonia, compared to the rest of Europe, is in a better position due to the lack of restrictive historical legacy, giving flexibility and adaptability, which is of critical importance in a rapidly, even dramatically, changing environment."


The second panelist, Kadri Tuisk, an EBS alumna, Founder/ CEO @SageOS & @Clanbeat, and young female entrepreneur of the year 2021 emphasized that the availability of large data collections requires critical thinking to assess the accuracy and value of the data. She compared the coming of AI to the arrival of the internet – both are changes of similar impact, demanding the human brain to adapt to a completely new reality. Tuisk mentioned that community becomes increasingly important, as in an ever-turbulent world, community support helps to develop, grow, and solve problems together.


The third participant was Lauri Antalainen, Digiwise CEO, Senior Process Engineer, with 4-5 years of experience in using artificial intelligence (AI) in the context of companies. He spoke about the digitalization of the supply chain, entirely new business opportunities opened by AI, and a completely new mindset of people since the launch of ChatGPT. AI was previously treated like flying cars – a nice theory that will probably arrive someday, but now the revolution in artificial intelligence is already seen as having occurred.


The second panel, " Urban Design and Development – What is the Role of Community and Participation in Economic Growth?" focused on urban planning and development. The panel was led by Ave Habakuk, Head of Process Development at the Urban Environment and Public Works Department of the City of Tallinn and a member of the Supervisory Board at EBS. The panel was set in the context of the Eedu educational and business campus being developed with EBS's participation, providing a reason to discuss the value and challenges of the multifunctional modern urban education hub.


Thought leader of strategic foresight, ex-Chief Design Officer - City of Helsinki, and Design Director at KONE Corporation Dr. Anne Stenros spoke in her video address about creating communities through urban-based food innovation and citizens' role in designing smart cities. She shared various exciting scenarios with the audience on how a city, including Tallinn, could function in 2030, 2040, 2050, and 2060. The key words to where development, according to her, is heading are green, smart, and humane cities.


Panelist Birgit Linnamäe – polyglot and entrepreneur, strategy consultant, modular housing advocate, and a PhD researcher at EBS – sees one of the biggest challenges as keeping up with and considering people's humanity, individual needs, and soft values. Urban planning faces significant changes as urbanization occurs at a very high speed, and everything becomes more centralized and efficient. Even the words we use when talking about urban and spatial planning are important and affect how we shape our future.


Birgit Linnamäe, who was also the organizer of the seminar, comments: ”Here at EBS we are embarking on a whole new journey, and in our rapidly changing environment and volatility that we live in we want to understand how different elements and mechanisms work together and how we can jointly contribute to creating our future.”


Kristi Grišakov urban planner and researcher, Head of Policy and Analysis at the Spatial Planning Department of the Estonian Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture, found that modern environmental and urban planning requires a new mindset and a systematic approach, followed only then by the search for technical solutions. It's important to select the right methodology from a vast array, one that aligns with the strategic goal and creates the future we aim to reach. Current urban planning scenarios are outdated and need revising, including decisions at the national level. For instance, whether in the future we talk only about “Big Tallinn” as the center, or whether we also wish to develop other centers. Emphasizing the role of education, she stressed that systematic thinking about the future needs to be taught in school.


The seminar is available for full review:

1st panel here.

2md panel here.