The second symposium on Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform
By Hajime Yamada (GLOCOM)
The second symposium on Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform was held on August 31st, 2001, at Yasuda Auditorium, University of Tokyo. In spite of it being the last day of summer vacation, the symposium was attended by a large audience of more than 800.
Takeshi Nagano, President of the Engineering Academy of Japan (EAJ) made an opening speech representing the promoters:
It is certain that science and technology will continue to play certain roles in society. We must take pride in developing engineering in Japan. In order to accomplish good achievements, interchange of ideas by specialists beyond existing boundaries of fields will be important.
Hiroshi Komiyama, Dean of the Engineering Department, University of Tokyo, introduced five knowledge platform projects he is promoting:
Man has been acquiring more and more things throughout history. However, at the same time there are more and more things that man does not understand or know. That is our big problem today. In order to solve this problem, various measures are taken all over the world. The University of Tokyo has started new measures according to a concept that structuralizing knowledge platforms is a root of solutions. We would like to promote these measures that will structuralize knowledge, which had increased enormously and spread to the extent that man cannot handle it anymore in the 20th century, into a well-balanced and suitable form for the 21st century.
The University of Tokyo has just started five interrelated projects. They include the Structuralizing Industrial Technology Knowledge Platform Project led by Professor Katsumori Matsushima; the Structuralizing Sociotechnological Knowledge Platform Project guided by Professor Hideyuki Horii; the Structuralizing Nanotechnology Knowledge Project by Professor Yukio Yamaguchi; the Structuralizing Academic Creation Knowledge Project led by Professor Yoichiro Matsumoto; and the Structuralizing Knowledge Platform of the Study of Failures by Professor Masayuki Nakao.
Norihiko Ishiguro of the Ministry of Economy, Technology and Industry (METI) made the following speech to introduce the Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform:
The reconstruction period after World War II was a changeover for Japan from product innovation to process innovation. During that period, the Japanese economy had grown by lowering product prices, increasing demand, and growing income. However, that does not function well these days. Japan needs a drastic reform now.
Start-up enterprises have been making good use of technological achievements in the United States, but not in Japan. The Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform was drawn up in order to reform and fill this gap.
Professor Hajime Yamada of the Center for Global Communications, International University of Japan, made the following speech:
There are negative opinions that interchange of knowledge is impossible even with this kind of project because intellectual property rights are attached to individual companies. However, simultaneous management of both competition and cooperation is now a common practice in industry. Private corporations would try to secure their own intellectual property rights. After that, however, they would trade most of the technology as business materials. That kind of management will be required more in the near future.
Upon facing an era of broadband network communications, if existing networks or mass media will simply expand quantitatively, it would not increase utility, and would not be welcomed by users either. Rather, Yamada predicts that a number of groups will be formed based on users' own initiative, and broadband networks will be used by these group members to interact with each other.
Some examples of platform activities were cited in this symposium. Professor Hideyuki Horii explained an activity called "Structuralizing Sociotechnological Knowledge Platform Project." Compared with the progress in Science and Technology (S&T), Sociotechnology still has room for development. Professor Horii explained that the objectives of the activity were to consider how social systems should be in accordance with development of S&T, and to put its progress to good use for Sociotechnology. Overview of the activity was then introduced, including with the challenge of establishing a knowledge system for solving safety-related social problems. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) had provided a research grant.
Konosuke Kawashima, Director of the Traffic Research Center, NTT Advanced Technology Corporation (NTT-AT), explained that a platform is being established on superhigh-speed information communication networks, where discussions on the Research and Development policies take place. Quantitative themes such as communication traffic control, quality of services and costs should receive particular focus. Also, Yamato Sato, Director of Voice and Sound Center, NTT-AT, said that he expected to discover audio databases owned by national organizations, universities, foundations, research organizations of private companies and individuals in order to create a system to put information in circulation and to effective use.