Technology enables inclusive design
Chiki Ogiue is a popular radio personality, the editor-in-chief of "SYNODOS" news site and commentator of various TV news programs in Japan, covering numerous topics from international issues, to politics, society, science and culture. He has received the Galaxy Award – given to programs and individuals which contribute highly to the development of Japan’s broadcasting culture – for his show on TBS Radio, ‘Ogiue Chiki Session-22’ two years consecutive in 2016 and 2017. He also actively voices his opinions on solving social issues through interviews with experts in various fields. His books include ‘Web Enjo (Web on Fire)’, ‘Saigai Shien Techo (Disaster Support Handbook)’, and ‘Mirai Wo Tsukuru Kenri (The Right to Create the Future)’.
In his book, ‘Mirai Wo Tsukuru Kenri’, Ogiue introduces a robot suit called HAL® under the title, “The human body becomes a cyborg”. HAL® – developed by CYBERDYNE, INC. for medical and welfare purposes in particular – is a cyborg-type robot which can be attached to the human body to assist people in walking and doing hard labor. For example, if you want to walk, the signal normally sent from the brain to the muscles is instead received by HAL® to assist you to walk the way you want.
In 2013, an experimental event was held using HAL Switch (now called Cybernic Switch) to promote communications with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) patients. HAL Switch electrodes were attached to the immobile right arms of the patients so they can input messages from a PC.
Ogiue, who covered this event, said, “The role of 'Switch' – which connects the device with the person – becomes crucial when that person, who is unable to move due to disease or disability, tries to be active on his or her own will… If technologies like HAL develop even further, even people with physical disabilities will be able to communicate with devices such as a PC. HAL® might one day also be installed in wheelchairs and stretchers so their users will able to move according to their own will. Furthermore, they may be able to live more freely by mastering devices like robot arms. It will help realize one of the ideal desires in engineering of acknowledging ‘the right to expand the body’, or in other words, ‘the right to become a cyborg’.”
His view is that in order to realize a society in which all people can coexist on equal terms, an education system and social system that is inclusive and respectful for, and supports all people are required. Even in the world of science and technology, an ‘inclusive design’ is once again being sought after.
New technological discoveries also lead to discoveries of new accidents
In 2016, the world's first fatal accident involving a self-driving car occurred in the United States. But, as the accident was caused by the driver ignoring the warning to always keep his hands on the steering wheel even in self-driving mode, the car was not at fault. Technological advancements and the accidents and incidents which accompany them have been caused by various factors and have been repeated over time. Even the seeds of technology which have been carefully sown and nurtured undergo various trials and are exploited at times. Chiki Ogiue mentions the following;
“A person today can earn knowledge with almost no effort by using various apps. For example, even if you can’t read a map, an app will guide you to your destination easily. That’s basically something good; in other words, it’s a ‘yang’. However, there are those who exploit maps for charting areas for discriminatory purposes. That’s a ‘ying’. If ‘yang’ changes its form, then ‘ying’ will also be recreated into something else. According to media theory, new technological discoveries lead to discoveries of new accidents. Therefore, if a new ‘ying’ is created, then a new solution must be created against it.”
Ogiue is also actively involved in issues to protect the socially vulnerable, including bullying and poverty. He says ‘minimal rules’ which check and alert discriminatory remarks on the Internet, such as hate speech and fake news, are required.
“Corporations should team up to create an ‘Internet Charter’ to propose to the United Nations so countries can join forces to ensure minimal freedom on the Internet. Also, new standards and charters will also be required together to secure control of technologies.”
With easier access to the Internet and increased use of various services such as social networks, Ogiue points out the need for reconsideration of a legislative framework.
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