Message from IPSJ President

Creating the future society with many fellow members

  -- Upon assuming the IPSJ President --

  Katsumi Emura
Katsumi Emura
(President, Information Processing Society of Japan / NEC Corp.)
(from "IPSJ Magazine" Vol. 60, No. 7, pp.580-582 (2019))

 It is with great honor and a sense of trepidation that I take on my role as the 30th President of the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ) during this historic time that Japan enters the new Reiwa era and as our organization is going to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The world is in the middle of digital transformation, and significant changes are taking place everywhere. Data and AI are providing the impetus for this transformation, which is resulting in an exceedingly greater number of areas in which information processing can make significant contributions. Rest assured that I will endeavor to further advance the interests of our organization, which was built through the efforts of past Presidents and members, as we navigate through the changes of the times.

Solving Social Issues and Creating Values

 As exemplified in United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the Society 5.0 concept proposed and promoted by the Japanese government and the Japan Business Federation, there is a growing global trend towards creating a human-centric society while solving social issues and pursuing economic growth. In line with the SDGs’ emphasis on “leaving no one behind,” the challenge going forward is to create a society in which everyone sharing this one Earth can live abundantly, as the global population continues to grow. Japan, which is moving into the 100-year life era, even as its population continues to decrease, must tackle new challenges that are different from what the rest of the world is facing.
 The advancement of digitization has made it possible to address these challenges with approaches that were previously unavailable. Information processing technology, particularly, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI), serve as the wellspring of digital transformation. I think it is extremely important for us to thoroughly consider how we can contribute to this major digital transformation movement and to think hard about what specific actions to take. 

Connecting the new paradigm brought about by digitalization to the enhancement of the value of IPSJ

 Understanding that the progress of digitalization is underpinned by significant changes in paradigm will be important in figuring out the future steps that we need to take. Thus far, a deductive approach to obtaining solutions by physical laws and mathematical formulas has been the mainstream approach. This is not the case, however, with data-based AI, which is an inductive approach. Since the approach is based on deriving answers from a data set, the answers that appear vary depending on the data set that you use. Consequently, since there is no 100% correct solution, a new type of engineering is required. This is thoroughly discussed in the “Special Issue: Machine learning engineering” of the January edition of the IPSJ magazine, this year. It is imperative to establish machine learning as a field of engineering and to have it firmly rooted in the world, not to mention the development of human resources. It is for this reason that the role to play by our organization is very crucial.

 In order to use information processing in areas where sufficient data is not available, such as in natural disasters and system failures, it is deemed necessary to combine the a deductive approach with the inductive approach. This brings about a new integrated field of study. Our organization therefore faces a number of challenges, including taking on the leading position in these new areas. One of the challenges is forging global collaborations with other academic organizations.

 A discussion of creating value from data often leads to a discussion of data hoarding by GAFA or the Chinese. The influence of the amount of data on the offered value and performance is undeniable. Although there are some problems in the industry that are difficult to deal with due to geopolitical issues, there are global initiatives that can only be made by an academic and neutral organization. Thus far, our organization has worked with other academic organizations that have a global presence, such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACMs) and China Computer Federation (CCF). It is important to further strengthen the unique collaboration among academic organizations in the face of complex international situations.

Role of IPSJ for talent developments

 We are seeing the rise of many extremely talented young people, such as Sota Fujii (Shogi), Sumire Nakamura (Go), Tomokazu Harimoto (table tennis), and Rika Kihara (figure skating). Even in the world of information processing, there are now many young gamers and hackers with exceptional talents. I was surprised to find out that we have elementary school junior members reading the IPSJ Magazine. It is never too early to hone one’s talents. Former President Prof. Shojiro Nishio has worked hard to increase the number of members, including junior members. Expanding services that would attract the leaders of the future generation is the key to enhancing the sustainability of our organization.

 Although until recently, the impression was that AI is only for specialists, many programs for deep learning are now provided as open-source, giving access to anyone with the basic knowledge of information processing. From the macro-perspective, however, there is an undeniable lack of data scientists and AI engineers and the need to raise the level of these human resources. IPSJ promotes the development of IT personnel through Software Japan and by hosting various seminars, as well as through the Certified IT Professional program. I believe that it is important to further widen the scope of these initiatives and expand our contributions.

 In order to create a variety of values through the use of data, it is indispensable for people involved in information processing or AI to collaborate with other domains and people, and to perform activities that integrate the expertise and knowledge of those domains. These collaborations and activities lead to the creation of significant values. In the same way that knowledge in other fields is indispensable for information processing, people seeking to utilize data in other fields must at least understand the basics of information processing. The value of our organization will be enhanced by inviting such people to join us and providing them with venues and opportunities to create new connections. The social science perspective is also important in data utilization and providing opportunities to meet with people in this area is also a challenge.

 In this era of data utilization, it has become necessary to increase the public’s understanding of AI and data handling, and to increase their literacy. Excessive apprehensions about using data can hinder value creation. I believe, therefore, that it is important for IPSJ, which gathers members with the most sophisticated and fair knowledge on information processing, to strengthen our outreach activities, widen the points of contact with society and the public, and provide a thorough explanation of the benefits of data utilization. The advent of the 100-year life era leads to a greater need for recurrent education, which means that we need to have points of contact with people of all generations and genders. In addition to activities aimed at pursuing leading-edge advances in scientific technology, I am hoping that our organization can serve as a venue for many people to come together. The creation of values based on utilization of data necessitates the addition of the general public into the collaborations between industry, government, and academia. I believe this is an area that we can explore in thinking about the future of our organization as a place for different people to gather.

Strengthen the management foundation for our future challenge

 As mentioned above, the possibilities are endless as to what IPSJ can do. To be able to take on new challenges, we need to further strengthen our management foundation, fundamental to which is maintaining and increasing the number of our members. There is a strong correlation between the number of members and the attractiveness of the services provided. The key points to keep in mind in enhancing the attractiveness of our services are the attractiveness from a scientific and technological perspective, the development of human resources, and the contributions to society. In terms of scope, we should consider the spectrum of topics covered, globalization, and the diversity of our members.

 The attractiveness of our services from a scientific and technological perspective is the lifeline of our organization, and has also been the organization’s main focus thus far. We need to aim for ISPJ to be the first choice in publishing and presenting papers related to information processing. For this purpose, we will continue to further enhance the attractiveness of our national conventions and research meetings, and try to improve our global visibility by improving the quality of our English journal.

 In terms of human resource development, we are providing information and education, including elementary and secondary education, as well as education and certification programs for technical personnel of companies. By revising and expanding the content of these education programs in accordance with the times, and by recognizing the need for recurrent education, we will aim to increase the number of institutions and companies that can have access to these programs and to increase the number of individuals that can benefit from them.

 In regard to social contributions, issues related to social acceptance and privacy are expected to arise as data utilization and AI use progresses. I intend to address these issues as an organization of experts by making appropriate recommendations and expressing opinions. The recent Special Issue of the IPSJ magazine covers highly diverse topics that are also timely and appropriate. It also includes many topics related to the life and work of the general public. By increasing the points of contacts with ordinary citizens and widely disseminating these types of information, we will aim to make information processing more widespread and accessible for social value creations.

 The world is changing greatly with the advancement of digital transformation. I believe that if IPSJ will transform itself in anticipation of these changes, we will be able to increase the value we provide and increase our membership in the process. I hope to pursue this transformation together with you all, so I ask for your support and cooperation.
Apr.26, 2019