Tokyo Tech News
Since its establishment in September 2018, the Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation in Global Networks (DLab) has held numerous gatherings with diverse participants to discuss how we can work together to create a better future. On October 23, 2019, emerging researchers from the Comprehensive Academy of the Organization for Fundamental Research (OFR) joined members of DLab for the second time.
DLab aims to examine possibilities from a wide range of perspectives, and this includes brainstorming both technologies and policies that may be required to realize a more desirable future. Following the first workshop between DLab and OFR in July, during which participants aimed to pinpoint links between their own research and future society, thirteen researchers continued discussions in October to identify some of the technologies that the future may require.
After introductory words by Tokyo Tech's Executive Vice President for Research Osamu Watanabe, DLab Associate Director Naoto Ohtake — who also serves as the director of the Comprehensive Academy — and some initial guidance from University Research Administrator (URA) Hajime Nitta, the researchers got to work.
The starting point of this workshop was to place oneself in a world where we "empathize with all beings via selective knowledge, senses, perspectives," one of the future scenarios created at DLab through comprehensive discussions with the public. As the workshop progressed, the groups focused on potential services and products that might emerge should this scenario be realized, in addition to new forms of required technology.
In a world where we are able to empathize with and understand other humans, animals, and inanimate subjects, what would you like to experience specifically? As a startup company, what kinds of products or services would you develop to offer these experiences to others? Who would be your main targets and what value would you be providing? What kinds of technologies would these products and services require? These were some of the key questions that participants sought to answer, both individually and through group work.
When brainstorming ideas for new products, most groups progressed with an "inverted pyramid" mindset, attempting first to grasp the bigger picture and then add details. One group focused on products and technology that would enable us to relive the experiences of top athletes. They were specifically interested in discussing how these experiences could and should be collected. For example, would we need to access his or her brainwaves, or would capturing audiovisual footage of the athletic feats be sufficient? The group also discussed how the target customer could experience these sensations. Would they be simulated only in the brain, or would they involve actual body movements?
With promising researchers in various fields such as engineering, biotechnology, and information technology working together and sharing ideas openly, the workshop was another outstanding opportunity to broaden perspectives and think big. The participants shared positive feedback, stating that they suddenly sensed an urgency to address the public's future needs, and were motivated by discussions with colleagues from other fields.
DLab is looking forward to sharing this motivation and images of a better future more widely with the public. The over 20 future scenarios that make up the Tokyo Tech Future Chronology will be released at a public event in central Tokyo on January 20, 2020. This will be followed by another workshop scheduled for early March.
Designing our future together
By gauging the needs and desires of society through dialogue, and by designing our future together, DLab aims to create a brighter, more prosperous world.