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HOME  >  Special Subject  >  2019  >  Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Special Subject

Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Hideaki Shiroyama
Professor
Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, the University of Tokyo

Specail Topic “Co-Creating New Society with Advanced Technologies”

The Toyota Foundation Research Grant Program established Co-Creating New Society with Advanced Technologies as a Special Topic in fiscal 2018*. In the face of emerging advanced technologies like AI, the objective is to support research that deals with questions based on the perspective of the users of advanced technology, such as how these technologies should be handled in society and what kind of vision there should be for human society in the future. The user-side settings are diverse rather than uniform. They range from medical and welfare settings through to transport and industry settings and can also include security settings. This year the Research Grant Program conducted its second call for proposals for this Special Topic, received 32 applications with a broad range of content, and finally selected seven projects.

The projects selected can be roughly divided into three categories.

The first category of projects examine the possibilities and challenges of using advanced technology in specific settings. This year, two projects with a particular focus on social inclusion for people with a disability were selected. These projects are D19-ST-0015 ”Interactive Arts and Disability: Creative Rehabilitation and Activity for Individuals with a Disability,” Shigenori Mochizuki (Associate Professor, College of Image Arts and Sciences, Ritsumeikan University) and D19-ST-0014 “Promoting a Children-Centered Society Where Disabled and Non-Disabled Children Can Coexist by Using Digital Art and Sensors,” Yuki Oka (Representative Director, NPO Ubdobe). The former is a project that aims to build new designs based on an international network while the latter is a project that will explore sustainable models through frontline dissemination. In addition, D19-ST-0012 “Effects of Implementing Mental Health Support App for Athletes: Benefits and Challenges of Introducing High Technology to Interpersonal Services,” Yasutaka Ojio (Researcher, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry) is a project that will attempt to examine ideals for interpersonal services utilizing advanced technology in the area of the mental health of athletes, a unique setting for issues.

The second category of projects will attempt to comprehensively examine the political, social, and ethical challenges involved in introducing advanced technology into society. D19-ST-0006 “Advanced Technology and International Relations: Exploring Challenges Related to International Relations over Security, Economy, and Information and Communication Technologies, and Platform Formation,” Yoshiaki Takayama (Research Fellow, Center for Disarmament, Science and Technology, The Japan Institute of International Affairs) will address technology and security, important issues that are rarely analyzed directly. D19-ST-0019 “Requirements for social decision-making by/with AI: Research on ‘Good’ datasets and ‘Desirable’ outputs,” Hirotsugu Ohba (Research Fellow, Graduate School of Letters, Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University) will directly address the problem of ultimate value selection associated with the use of technology.

The third category of projects will aim to propose specific policies and frameworks for when we utilize advanced technology. D19-ST-0020 “A Study on the Impact of the Spread of Digital Health on Patient Dynamics and Medical Systems,” Kuichiro Taguchi (Executive, The Future Lab) is a project that will attempt to empirically verify the impact of using digital technology on patients, healthcare costs, and the healthcare system in collaboration with large-scale regional scientific research to provide the basis for practical policy proposals. D19-ST-0025 “Research and Trial for Molbot Roadmap based on Cross-Disciplinary and International Perspectives,” Ryuma Shineha (Associate Professor, ELSI Center, Osaka University) is an attempt to specifically trial a roadmap based on an extensive network of stakeholders as a framework for the practical implementation of “Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)” related to future technology in molecular robots, an interdisciplinary field of robotics and life science.

Young researchers and practitioners in the humanities and social sciences play central roles in the seven projects above, and we believe them to be ambitious projects that will attempt to examine the ideals and challenges for society in utilizing advanced technology. However, it is hoped that there will be repeated dialogue with frontline scientists and engineers when these research projects are carried out. In addition, the specific research themes this year seem to have been somewhat weighted toward the welfare of people with a disability. Although a project that deals with security is included in this round of grants, we look forward to research proposals with a wider range of fields as specific themes in the future.

 * Special Topic “Co-Creating New Society with Advanced Technologies” has been separated from Research Grant Program of the Toyota Foundation since 2019.

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