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HOME  >  Special Subject  >  2020  >  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. This year the Research Grant Program conducted its third call for proposals for this Special Topic, received 34 applications with a broad range of content, and finally selected six 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 related to medical and welfare services were selected. These projects are D20-ST-0017 “Community Development Using Advanced Technology in a Depopulated and Aging Area: Action research on supporting the elderly using social robots as part of a comprehensive community care system,” Kimihiko Daimon (Chief Examiner, Longevity Long-term Care Division, Izu City Hall, Shizuoka Prefecture) and D20-ST-0030 “Study of the Global Situation of Drug-resistant Bacteria and the Impact of Introducing an AI-based Bacterial Diagnosis Assistance System into Clinical Laboratories,” Tatsuya Yamada (Director, GramEye Inc. / Undergraduate, Faculty of Medicine, Osaka University). Both of these projects also have distinctive characteristics in terms of their research structures. The former project is led by the employee of a local government, which is a user of technology, and is an attempt to solve local issues by bringing together a variety of experts. On the other hand, in the latter project, a student who has started up his own business will boldly tackle the global issue of drug-resistant bacteria.

 The other projects in the first category are D20-ST-0034 “The Promotion of eSport Science: Toward the social implementation of next-generation sport created by the fusion of sport science and ICT,” Takashi Matsui (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences/Research and Development Center for Sport Innovation, University of Tsukuba) and D20-ST-0009 “Practical Application of a Fraudulent Accounting Detection AI Model for Sound Capital Market Formation: Fusion research that adds the perspective of a practitioner to the three areas of accounting, law, and statistics,” Koken Ozaki (Associate Professor, Faculty of Business Science, University of Tsukuba). The former is a project that will seek to develop the area of eSports, which are games that utilize information technology. The latter project will try to apply AI to detect fraudulent accounting. The distinctive characteristic of the latter project is that it will not simply develop an AI model, but will also seek to address the prerequisites (development of a common cross-sectoral concept of fraud, etc.) for utilizing such a model in society through collaboration with diverse experts and stakeholders.

 The second category of project is concerned with information technology functioning as advanced technology education. D20-ST-0033 “Research on Practical IoT Education Curriculum at Kosen,” Osamu Saito (Engineer, CO-Works Co., Ltd.) falls into this category. Faced with limited information technology human resources in regional areas, the distinctive features of the project are that it will try to develop human resources through regional colleges of technology (Kosen) as well as aiming for collaboration between technical colleges and local elementary and secondary education rather than being confined to colleges of technology in the process of human resource development.

 The third category of project will attempt to develop a program to comprehensively examine the ethical, legal and social challenges involved in introducing advanced technology into society. D20-ST-0024 “A Vision of “MELSIT”: Co-constructing models of multidisciplinary “ELSI Talents” (MELSIT) and collaborative designing for the next MELSIT development,” Yusuke Shikano (Specially Appointed Fellow, Research Center on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, Osaka University) falls into this category. This ambitious project will seek to link MELSIT development to ordinary programs based on the actuality of ethical, legal and social issues in corporate workplaces in collaboration with specific corporate activities.

 This year more projects in the first category of projects which examine the possibilities and challenges of using advanced technology in specific settings were selected than in previous years. Leading-edge issues are often embedded in specific settings and so, in that sense, working in collaboration with the frontline is desirable. On the other hand, given that the nature of the grant program is to provide grants for research rather than grants for practice, it is hoped that the projects will explore more deeply the question of how to position the issues in such frontline settings and the response to them in the context of the wider society in general. In doing this, it is thought that ideological and philosophical issues can also be confronted as frontline issues. In that sense, we look forward to project proposals that combine the first and second categories or the first and third categories 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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