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Lectures and Colloquia

Building a Resilient Society

IBM Research – Tokyo

What kind of future will IT and science technology bring? And how will it make society more resilient?

With this theme, IBM Research-Tokyo held a colloquium on July 25th, 2011 at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation as part of the series of global Research Colloquia to commemorate IBM’s centennial. More than 100 experts from a broad range of fields, including business, academia, and government attended, with an aim to explore how the advancement of science technology can improve society’s resiliency.

“The history of IBM was built on the business model of continuous transformation. IBM’s solutions are based on the company principle of achieving innovation together with our clients. And we are committed to this for the next 100 years,” said Noly Morimoto, director of IBM Research-Tokyo.

“Japan has experienced the advantages, as well as the disadvantages, of science through the March 11 earthquake. I would like us to use this opportunity to determine what we need to build a disaster-resilient, buoyant and flexible society using science and technology.”

Space Development in 2030

Shinichi Nakasuka, professor at the University of Tokyo, introduced a number of projects, including the development of a low-cost micro-satellite, and how it can impact the world in the future.

“Transition from production to innovation will become necessary in the future. To this end, we need to build an environment to allow low-cost, fast and reliable production,” he told the audience. He also emphasized the importance of human resource development, saying that development of experts who are highly competent in offering proposals by listening to what clients want.

Society in 2030

Chieko Asakawa, IBM Fellow, gave a lecture focusing on the aging society in 2030 and on how IT can contribute to improving the quality of life for the elderly. She looked back on the past 20 years of how technology has changed our everyday lives, with examples from her personal experience of how IT has improved the lives of the visually impaired.

“The greatest societal change the world will face in the next 20 years is the population of aging citizens. Japan will probably suffer the most from the impact of the decreasing labor population,” she said.

She then proposed various cases of how the elderly may utilize technology in the future, including the use of an e-paper device for checking schedules; matching services for ordering food delivery; conducting online meetings; and attending e-learning classes. She finished by suggesting that social participation by the elderly who are supported by such technology can lead to realizing a society where anyone can express their capabilities.

Healthcare in 2030

Yasutomi Kinosada, professor at the Gifu University, gave a lecture on how we can prepare for the future aging society from the perspective of healthcare.

“2030 is going to be an important milestone for society. The elderly need to become key players of economic activities. In addition to installing community-based seamless health management and nursing systems that connect to households, preventive medicine needs to be promoted in order to develop a society of never-tirees,” he said.

In closing, he emphasized that such a social environment “would act as an engine for Japan – which will experience the realities of an aging society ahead of any other countries in the world – to propagate the system to the world.”

Transportation in 2030

Haruyoshi Kumura, Fellow at Nissan Motor, gave a lecture titled “Transportation in 2030”, about smart energy as a means to improve mobility in 2030.

He looked back on the history of the Japanese economy and explained how the manufacturing industry, includingthe auto industry, has been supporting the Japanese economy. He said that in 2030, a shift to a new production system technology is required which satisfies the transportation needs of people, amidst an energy supply revolution. He also suggested pursuing the development of a sophisticated mobility system, including batteries and electric vehicles, as a solution to achieve this shift.

“Through a series of Smarter Planet engagements, IBM came to the conclusion that risk aversion, especially prevention of natural disaster, is equally important to improving the function of social infrastructure, since risks are hard to predict and require enormous amount of money to fully prepare for them.

“How can we utilize science and technology to build a resilient and buoyant society against natural disasters? Today, we discussed what kind of specific technologies we will see in the future,” Mr. Morimoto said.