(from "IPSJ Magazine" Vol. 62, No.7, pp.322-324 (2021))
I am pleased to succeed former President Emura as the 31st President of the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ). Together with all of you, I will make every effort to make the activities of IPSJ more active and valuable. I also would like to express my sincere appreciation to the past presidents, past and present officers, members including student members, and the secretariat for their great efforts in various activities of IPSJ. With the following as my main mission, I will work together with all of you to develop IPSJ toward the new normal era.
Countermeasures against COVID-19 and Acceleration of Digital Transformation of Society
Last year, we experienced an unprecedented crisis due to the worldwide outbreak of a new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) soon after the start of the year. In Japan, the first state of emergency was declared on April 7 last year, and we had to adapt to a different way of life by refraining from going out unnecessarily, avoiding the three Cs (closed space, crowded places, close-contact settings), and practicing social distancing.
During this period, while remote work, remote classes, telemedicine, and online administrative procedures have made rapid progress, many system-related issues have been exposed, such as the digitization of data, business processes, and data coordination, sharing, and distribution. For instance, fax machines were used to collect data, as well as workers need to go to work just for stamping.
We also experienced the social impact of software bugs, such as the use of COCOA, a smartphone-based contact tracing application for COVID-19 without realizing that the software was defective. In the midst of the prolonged With Corona period, IPSJ which has many experts involved in the information field needs to make every effort to accelerate the digital transformation of society as well as countermeasures against COVID-19 infections.
Digital transformation of IPSJ
In addition to promoting the digital transformation of society, we need to accelerate the digital transformation of IPSJ’s activities themselves. Last year's 82nd National Convention was successfully held online instead of on-site to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While we were able to confirm the benefits of online participation with zero travel costs for many people, we also experienced that participants had fewer opportunities to get to know each other and to participate in a complete session ("unbalanced diet of information"). In addition, we missed the opportunity to have a "physical experience" that only the National Convention can provide, such as experiencing local food and local culture. We need to carefully analyze what value will be lost in the future. For the time being, it is important to continue trial and error in various events and seminars toward the new normal, while practicing the prevention of the spread of infection and considering the introduction of new technologies to determine what kind of format is best and how to improve the value of the conferences and events.
Solving social issues including SDGs and creating new value
As a scientific society, it is important for us to actively contribute to the various social issues listed in the SDGs and the problem of global warming. In particular, data-driven/evidence-based problem-solving methodologies using ICT are one of the methods that can contribute in a general way. We should promote open data and open science more than ever, collaborate with specialists in other fields, and be actively involved in solving social issues. On the other hand, the use of AI, IoT, Big Data, etc., is consuming a great deal of electricity in data centers. According to the Center for Low Carbon Society Strategy of JST, if no energy conservation measures are taken at all with the current technology, the annual power consumption of information-related alone will be 42 PWh in 2030, far exceeding the current worldwide power consumption of about 24 PWh. One of the important issues is to lead the technological innovation for ultra-low power consumption from all aspects in the information field and to achieve "Computing and Communication for Carbon Neutral".
Contributing to academia and industry and strengthening cooperation with related organizations
One of the major strengths of IPSJ is that it provides a forum for researchers, engineers, and students to discuss the latest results in man research groups covering a wide range of fields in informatics, and also contributes to the creation of new fields. I think that most Japanese universities have traditionally established faculties by discipline, and have lagged behind in trans-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research and education. On the other hand, the field of informatics has the character of a metascience, and it is important to accelerate the integration of existing disciplines and creating new fields such as computational chemistry, material informatics, computational design, computational sociology, computational public policy, and computational ethics. We will take on the challenge of creating new academic fields.
In terms of collaboration with the industry, IPSJ has been promoting the certification of professional competence of Information Technology engineers by establishing the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) program. From this fiscal year, we will start collaborating with the Japan IT Federation, a federation of IT organizations, so we will strengthen our ties with the ICT-related professional community that is needed in our society, understand the needs of the professional community. We will also create new projects that are attractive to industrial members of IPSJ.
Fostering young human resources and promoting international cooperation
The IPSJ launched a junior membership system in 2015 and is actively working to develop young human resources. In addition to strengthening projects for junior members, we would like to provide support for undergraduate and graduate students, so that they can gain experience in participating in conferences, in internships abroad as well as student volunteers at international conferences. Active professors may conduct a joint research project with researchers in Europe, the U.S., and/or Asia, actively recruit young researchers, and support the continuous fostering of top-notch young researchers and engineers who can compete internationally. The role of IPSJ in supporting these research communities is essential.
As mentioned above, I believe that we should not consider the various restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis, but rather as an opportunity to promote digital innovation for the next 60 years. IPSJ is not just a member-only organization, but an organization within a society, and I think it is important to create new value through various collaborations, give back to society, and open up a new normal era.