Finnish Trailblazer Sanna Marin Discusses Putin, Female Power, and AI Legislation

At the Slush tech conference in Helsinki earlier this month, this editor had the chance to interview Sanna Marin. The former prime minister of Finland, Marin played a key role in the country’s NATO membership. Though she no longer works in Finnish politics, she is currently a strategic counselor at the Tony Blair Institute and is involved in a startup with a long-time political advisor. Given the warm reception she received at Slush, Marin’s potential return to politics is a possibility she hasn’t ruled out, as indicated in our sit-down conversation.

We spent much of our time discussing Russia’s aggressive expansion towards Ukraine and its broader global implications, the need for women to believe in their leadership capabilities, the challenges and benefits of AI, and the responsibilities of lawmakers concerning AI. Here are select excerpts from our edited conversation.

Marin spoke about the difficulties of assuming a major leadership role at a relatively young age and her hope for increased female leadership worldwide. In her advice to tech entrepreneurs, she emphasized the importance of self-confidence, particularly among women seeking leadership positions. Marin recalled the events prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and outlined the dangers of a naive approach when dealing with authoritarian regimes like Russia.

Marin also spoke about tech autonomy, specifically Europe’s reliance on China for chips, and Finland’s commitment to increasing R&D funding. She reflected on the role of the European Commission and the collaboration between legislative bodies and the private sector in regulating technological developments. Despite acknowledging the risks associated with AI, Marin emphasized the need for integration between technology creators and legislators to maximize its benefits.

Lastly, Marin talked about the importance of work-life balance and proper time for family, drawing from personal experiences in leading the renewal of parental leave policies in Finland. She encouraged ambition while stressing the significance of family time for the development of a well-rounded individual.

These are just some of the key points from our conversation with Sanna Marin, a prominent figure working on various fronts and offering valuable insights for the technology and political sectors alike.

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