Tokyo Tech News

DLab, OFR researchers hold fourth workshop to brainstorm future science and technology


Published: November 17, 2021

Since its launch in September 2018, the Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation in Global Networks (DLab) has brought together diverse participants, both in person and online, to discuss how we can create a better future together. On October 25, DLab and the Comprehensive Academy of the Organization for Fundamental Research (OFR) held their fourth joint workshop, offering emerging researchers from various disciplines the chance to share ideas, develop their own academic interests, and identify budding research topics.

At this year's workshop, the participants focused on the following question: What kind of science and technology is required for us to realize the future scenarios we envision? The researchers openly discussed what research will be needed by future society, what technology might be required and how they could contribute to providing it, and then summarized their discussions with their updated image of a desirable future based on existing DLab Future Scenarios.

Arrival of Future Scenarios expedited by COVID-19

To kick things off, the 18 participating researchers from OFR split into five groups to discuss one DLab Future Scenario that had arrived earlier than expected due to the effects of COVID-19 — enjoying a strong, complete, balanced home. The discussions highlighted some positive aspects that had emerged as a result, such as more diverse ways of working, increased productivity at home, more opportunities to adopt fresh viewpoints in life, increased online services, particularly in terms of food, and more quality time spent at home and with family. On the other hand, the researchers also noted various downsides, including the inability to create human connections comparable to in-person encounters, disparities experienced by essential workers, underdevelopment of local infrastructure, and lack of technology that contributes to human comfort during the pandemic.

Future Scenarios expected to materialize in 2040 emerge early due to effects of COVID-19

Future Scenarios expected to materialize in 2040 emerge early due to effects of COVID-19

Probing Future Scenario No. 4: Choose or build your own community

Next, the participants dug deeper into DLab Future Scenario No. 4: Choose or build your own community, using mind maps to identify and break down some of the potential bottlenecks for realizing this scenario. As the discussions progressed, the researchers highlighted various values and social systems for which agreement would be critical in these new communities. These included the elimination of friction between different communities, online human rights, finding a balance between real and virtual experiences, and the protection of existing and new communities. The discussion then shifted to the feasibility of the development of existing technologies for the future, such as 3D expression with holograms and other light-emitting objects, and digital twins replicating human movement.

Group work using online tools

Group work using online tools

Pursuing new research by backcasting from updated scenarios

To wrap up the workshop, each group presented an updated version of their Future Scenario. In order to realize these new scenarios, the participating researchers intend to explore further research topics such as the development of luminescent materials, digital twin technology, and sensor technology based on their own passions and interests.

Afterwards, participants commented that the workshop has allowed them to take home new research topics based on existing scenarios, position their own research in a broader landscape, and deepen their understanding of the research of others by connecting through open discussion. It also allowed them to set aside constraints such as costs so they could picture concretely how some of DLab's shared goals might be implemented.

DLab will continue to work with emerging researchers and other members of society in order to envision and implement a more desirable future for all members of the public.

Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation in Global Networks (DLab)

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.

Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation in Global Networks (DLab)outer


Laboratory for Design of Social Innovation for Global Networks


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