Event Report: C&C User Forum & iEXPO 2017

5th NEC Future Creation Forum

Two Forum members gave a short address, followed by a full debate that cautioned people not to rely on technology and science alone to generate guaranteed happiness, or automatically ensure an equal and enriched life for all.

Session 2 Part (2)
Living a happy, enriched life

Presentation 1: An equal society promoting individual self-realization

Chiki Ogiue, Commentator

My specialist field is media studies. According to philosopher Paul Virilio, inventing new media or technology also invents accidents. The invention of the car led to traffic accidents. The discovery of nuclear power led to nuclear accidents. In addition to physical accidents, new media can sometimes result in a betrayal of expectations, such as when a plane arrives late and disrupts arrangements with other people, meetings and general communication.

Internet media is producing new accidents, from online rage to information leaks, revenge porn or hate speeches. New accidents will undoubtedly occur with the invention of brain-net or AI, and we will have to create new rules to deal with them.

To counter these new forms of violence, we need new forms of equality, systems and rights. In terms of equality, differing levels of accessibility to devices will cause economic disparity, so we must develop new equalizing architecture to avoid exacerbating discrimination and promote equality. The architecture can’t do that alone. Architects and designers must embed new norms and ethics of equality into new systems.

Every time a new media is born, new social norms need to be invented. People create these norms to promote new creative powers and new world perspectives. This area requires urgent recognition, swift action and deeper discussion if we are to get it right.

Portrait of Chiki Ogiue


Chiki Ogiue

Presentation 2: What constitutes human happiness and a rich life?

Ryojin Shionuma, Chief Priest, Jigenji Temple

The debate on how to live a more fulfilling life will continue for many years to come. I would like to contribute to that debate by considering how to experience joy in our current lives.

Consider the words thank you: My teachers taught me that people can only truly feel your gratitude if the spoken word is combined with feelings and gestures. Miss out one, and the feeling is not properly conveyed. If someone lay on the floor and said, “thank you,” I wouldn’t feel they were grateful. Computers and AI listen to words, write them down and use them as tools for communication. However, humans have hearts, which we must always remember to polish and nurture.

One day when I was out walking, someone shouted out my name and told me he had read one of my books. In the book, I had written that it only takes a second to give a solid “yes” reply, but it can express your entire feelings. Every day before the man went to work, his wife would ask him to put out the trash. It used to make him angry because his wife spent every day relaxing at home. After reading my book, when he was asked to put out the trash the next day, he replied with a hearty “yes.” Within a week, his dinner was nicer, and, within a month, he was getting on much better with his wife. He was truly grateful! Human hearts can experience mutual joy through such a simple word.

Even without electricity or AI, we can still experience joy. We live on a beautiful planet, surrounded and supported by the subtle and wonderful balance of an expansive nature. Consider that and you will feel grateful for our current life.

Times are changing rapidly, but some things should never change. If we uphold and respect those things, I believe we could coexist with AI and computers, and realize a safe and fair society.

Portrait of Ryojun Shionuma

Chief Priest, Jigenji Temple

Ryojun Shionuma

Panel Discussion: Can technology make people happy?

“Science is the engine of prosperity, not happiness, so science cannot make you happier,” says Dr. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and professor at the City College of New York, who points out that people’s basic personality has not changed since the Stone Age when we lived in mud huts, something he calls the Caveman Principle.

“For instance, as technology advanced, many thought paper would disappear, but, in fact, we seem to be using more paper now. That relates back to the caveman principle. Cavemen were hunters, and needed physical proof of the kill. Paper is another form of physical proof, and people don’t trust words on an electronic screen. Cavemen also like to bond with others. Some believe we don’t need to commute to work anymore because we can all communicate on Skype or by teleconference, yet we still have say 100 people in an office. Another feature of the caveman principle is that something is never enough. We always want more. However much science gives us, we will always complain, because science is not the engine of happiness.”

Scene photo from panel discussion

By contrast, Kevin Kelly, Founding and Executive Editor of WIRED magazine believes technology has increased happiness, so, “by the same token, as AI develops, it will increase happiness further. We tend to think of happiness as a single dimension, but there are different types of happiness, such as contentment, security, or joy. Our sense of security and safety has increased over the past 200 years thanks to science. Some emotional aspects of happiness may not appear to change because of our caveman origins, but when we measure the relationship of technology to happiness, we should remember these different types and dimensions. Part of the discovery process is to ascertain exactly what happiness is and recognize its complex attributes.”

“Intelligence and life-living skills often get mixed up when we talk about AI,” argues Yutaka Matsuo, Project Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering. “A determined will to survive supports life and the evolutionary process. However, intelligence is the ability to solve issues to achieve a specific objective. If you want to win a shogi match, you use intelligence as a tool for learning and meeting the goal. Humans are life-living, intelligent creatures, who apply their intelligence to industry or engineering to create convenient things, but satisfaction is more about life and emotions. This might sound extreme, but I think most jobs are becoming obsolete. The instinct to beat your competitor and sell more product is a tribal battle, and we like to talk about each other. However advanced and convenient AI becomes, we will continue to group with our peers, battle with our enemy and talk about who is getting ahead or putting in the most effort.”

Scene photo from panel discussion

What constitutes enrichment?

Undoubtedly the way we experience enrichment differs in an enclosed, narrow world, and in a global world with easy access to a wide range of information. As a technology, will AI be able to service and satisfy that diversity?

“I think people compare themselves to others when determining their level of fulfilment and enrichment. In a global era where many people share much information, we can’t imagine being satisfied with life in a single, insular society. To achieve greater satisfaction and fulfillment, we should not compare ourselves to others, we should be satisfied with who we are, and accept there are many ways of thinking and living,” urges professional shogi player Yoshiharu Habu.

“People are sensitive to relative depravity. Whatever the era, there will always be people who feel they are missing out or have less than the next person. As a result, you can’t avoid unhappiness, however advanced the era, and relative criteria are constantly changing. People who are especially sensitive to this will complain and we should protest constrictive norms that hamper social change. AI can use big data to visualize these marginalized voices. The internet can link those voices and create a form of social demonstration to be communicated to government and society,” suggests Ogiue.

“2,500 years ago, the founder of Buddhism Gautama Buddha talked about happiness to the then ruler Pasenadi, saying that humans have four types of feelings. People who move from light to light, from light to darkness, from darkness to darkness, or those who turn darkness into light. Light is the ideal way of being and living. Darkness is the antithesis of light, but it is relative,” explains chief priest Shionuma. “We are all part of society and the world, so depending on the direction that each of our individual hearts take, we can head towards positive light, or negative darkness. Our individual feelings are not inconsequential, but have a role to play in creating a safe and stable world.”

Portrait of Kevin Kelly

Founding Executive Editor of WIRED magazine

Kevin Kelly

Scene photo from panel discussion

Directing diverse perspectives and debate into future progress

“Over the two sessions of this forum, we have discussed how encouraging coexistence between humans and AI can stimulate creativity and new possibilities, what should and shound’t change, and how the emergence of different criteria can promote diversity,” summarizes Chiaki Hayashi, CEO of LoftWorks and moderator of the 5 forums.

Portrait of Chiaki Hayashi

Representative Director, Loftwork Inc.

Chiaki Hayashi

CTO Katsumi Emura sheds some light on NEC’s future ambitions.
“We can do so much more now in the cyber world, but are restricted when returning progress to society as designed architecture by systems, norms, receptivity, and doubts about the efficacy of the technology. Over the past year, this forum has explored the relationship between humans and AI in great depth and crystalized the debate. We now need to enter a new phase in which we consider practical possibilities and applications in the real world in minute detail. NEC is ready to take this challenge to the next level”

Portrait of Katsumi Emura

Chief Technology Officer, NEC Corporation

Katsumi Emura