Overview


Outline of JSAI

Contents


Inaugural Address of President

 

Intelligence and Plasticity

Itsuki NODA
(Artificial Intelligence Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology)

Human beings have long survived by banding together, and intelligence was likely fostered by such cooperation. If a lone human being were born and raised on a desert island, with only a system to provide education in that environment, would self-awareness and intelligence emerge in that person? Personally, I believe that self-awareness and intelligence might not develop, and that perhaps self-awareness and intelligence require a society where other intelligent agents are present as peers.

Scientific societies have also survived and developed on the premise of banding together. Specialists with similar research themes share a platform for presenting results, and objectively examine and fairly assess ideas by coming together there. Contributing to the development of scientific knowledge in this way is the function and mission of such societies.

In the current situation, we have to restrict such gatherings. As I write these words, the state of emergency has been extended, and people have been forced to “hunker down.” (This term “hunker down” is a slogan adopted by the city of Kumamoto, where we planned to hold our annual conference. In terms of nuance, I prefer this phrase to “stay home.”) This also applies to JSAI’s activities, with almost all meetings since March either canceled or held online. Events will also likely be restricted for some time. Going forward, we must prepare ourselves for the possibility that our previous society, where people could freely meet, may not return, and we may have to indefinitely continue our activities while avoiding the three C’s that facilitate transmission of infectious disease (closed spaces, crowds, and close contact). We need to recognize that we are living in a time of great change.

The brain has plasticity. The functions of the cerebrum are divided into different areas, but even if a certain area is damaged due to injury or other reasons, and its function is lost, the original function is restored by the surrounding areas gradually changing and each playing a part in compensating. Intelligence is also a manifestation of the brain’s function, and should naturally involve a high level of plasticity. For it is precisely the ability to cope with changing or new environments that is the hallmark of intelligence. Conditions where gatherings are restricted are likely to cultivate intelligence adapted to those conditions. I don’t know whether that intelligence will be the same as what we’ve known as intelligence thus far, and investigating that difference may also become a topic for artificial intelligence research.

As a scientific society whose research theme is intelligence with plasticity, I would like the JSAI to be an organization exhibiting that same sort of plasticity. Conferences and SIG meetings are already being widely held online, and in some cases that approach is yielding interesting effects. Shifting board and committee meetings online is an existing policy, and although some awkwardness still remains in conducting meetings, that style of work is likely to become well-established. Although it is not directly related to the current emergency, the shift of pamphlets and documents to online forms will undoubtedly accelerate. Fortunately, thanks to the sophistication of the IT environment, it should generally be possible to shift the JSAI’s functions online.

On the other hand, I believe the JSAI also has functions which cannot be handled through online activity alone. Holding SIG meetings and annual conferences at different locations helps participants hit on new ideas due to being refreshed. When a person engages in a series of online meetings, it reduces fatigue and saves time spent moving around, but at the same time it is impossible for the person to refresh themselves psychologically. It’s sad to think that people will no longer be able to discuss intelligence while enjoying delicious foods and drinks. The current situation makes one realize that we have been holding SIG meetings and committee meetings in different locations and environments, and thereby gaining new ideas due to the change of mood. In the future, the JSAI will have to think of ways to compensate for this aspect.

They say Newton developed and perfected his great scientific achievements when forced to flee to the countryside to escape the plague. In the same way, the JSAI is likely to change due to the current social situation, through plasticity as an organization carrying out new functions. I have been charged with an important mission as the JSAI’s president in this time of great change. There are limitations on what I can do as one person, but together with all of the JSAI’s members, I definitely want to help the JSAI successfully navigate through these changes.

 

Address of Editor-in-Chief

On My Appointment as Editor-in-Chief of the JSAI

Yoji KIYOTA
(AI Strategy Division, LIFULL Co., Ltd.)

The annual conferences and SIG meetings that are the primary business of the JSAI have been greatly affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the annual conference scheduled to be held in Kumamoto was instead held online. This was extremely regrettable for everyone looking forward to an opportunity for face-to-face discussions in Kumamoto, including those in charge of on-site operations and other conference committee members.

On the other hand, we need to be more cognizant of the fact that the opportunity to participate online can be welcome news to people dealing with physical disabilities, child rearing, elder care, economic difficulties and other challenging circumstances. In order to achieve the mission of the JSAI—promoting progress in research, and dissemination of knowledge, relating to artificial intelligence and thereby contributing to the development of science, technology, industry, and society—it is essential to share the value of JSAI as a forum with people of a wide range of backgrounds. The Editorial Committee handles publication of the JSAI’s journal and transactions, our another main business, and vigorous efforts have been made by the committee, led by past editors-in-chief, based on awareness of our mission. Through improved journal planning, redesign of the journal cover, and other efforts, the society has deepened its connections with society. However, I feel we are still only halfway there when it comes to the JSAI reaching people of various backgrounds.

Professor Makoto Nagao, a pioneer in image and natural language processing, has this to say in a collection of essays that was recently digitally-published:

“Creating an academic discipline while keeping in mind a strict logical system […] is just creating paths of thought for the discipline, i.e., creating a skeletal framework by following logical reasons. It’s only when we ask how to flesh that out, how to engage it in muscular activity, that the discipline becomes fertile—matching with reality, and becoming truly useful and convincing to people. What to do about that part is a major problem, and one could say that here there is a large domain of research for the future.” (Quotation from Rakuten chimei: Kiraku na yoshinashi goto)

When one reads the JSAI journal from around the time the society was established, it is evident that, from the beginning, there has been a strong emphasis on developing a framework for artificial intelligence as a discipline, and on utility in the real world. In modern society, we are facing major crises like COVID-19 and declining birthrates, and in order to make artificial intelligence into a fertile discipline in the true sense, I believe it is extremely important, as part of the role of the JSAI, to always ask “what are the problems we really need to solve?” and to continually highlight grounds for asking that question. When I studied as an undergraduate student under Professor Nagao, he said “always be aware that your studies are supported by society,” and that left a strong impression. In my doctoral course, I conducted research on an interactive help system as joint research with a commercial firm, and I struggled a great deal due to the gap between the complex real-world data obtained in actual operations, and my research topic. On the other hand, I keenly realized that research is meaningless if one does not find problems to solve by focusing on real-world needs, even when that’s a struggle, and that led to my later encounter with unexplored fields that are fertile and brimming with significant research challenges, such as libraries and real estate industries.

In accepting the important position of editor-in-chief, I want to hold fast to policies stressed by the previous editor-in-chief Ryutaro Ichise and other previous editors—such as selecting valuable research papers, and featuring articles that contribute to the development of human resources. In parallel with that, I want to tackle three other points. The first is to shine light on issues in key fields where there is an urgent need for the technology and knowledge provided by artificial intelligence. In fields which are playing a key role in the response to COVID-19—e.g., medicine, long-term care, nursing, logistics, sales, education, and social infrastructure—I would like to collaboratively consider, as featured articles, what are the issues that need to be solved. The second point is to focus on philosophical issues which have had a major impact on the development of the discipline of artificial intelligence, and stimulate discussion that may lead to the rise of new paradigms. Our predecessors, who established artificial intelligence as a discipline, intensively discussed issues raised by Western philosophy, and laid the groundwork for making artificial intelligence useful in the real world, but for people who have just started to learn artificial intelligence recently, that background may be obscure in some ways. In addition, the issues raised by Eastern philosophy have also garnered attention recently in both the East and West. I hope to realize a plan whereby we can communicate these philosophical issues in a way that is as easy to understand as possible. The third point is a plan that will allow a wider range of people to become familiar with current topics in artificial intelligence. At present, we are running a series called “AI for the liberal arts” that presents examples of the use of artificial intelligence in comics, and our next plan is to extend this approach further, and run a series people can enjoy as reading material.

The efforts of all JSAI members are indispensable for ensuring that the activities of the JSAI have real significance. I hope you will continue to contribute outstanding papers and articles, and share your opinions with the Editorial Committee. I also hope we can count on your continuing support.

 

Past presidents

 

  Name incumbency
The 18th Itsuki Noda 2020.6.22-
The 17th Naohiko Uramoto 2018.6.27-2020.6.22
The 16th Seiji Yamada 2016.6.24-2018.6.27
The 15th Hitoshi Matsubara 2014.6.13-2016.6.24
The 14th Takahira Yamaguchi 2012.6.14-2014.6.13
The 13th Toyoaki Nishida 2010.6.10-2012.6.14
The 12th Koichi Hori 2008.6.12-2010.6.10
The 11th Riichiro Mizoguchi 2006.6.8-2008.6.12
The 10th Mitsuru Ishizuka 2004.6.3-2006.6.8
The 9th Hozumi Tanaka 2002.5.30-2004.6.3
The 8th Yoshiaki Shirai 2000.5.26-2002.5.30
The 7th Katsuhiko Shirai 1998.6.18-2000.5.26
The 6th Hidehiko Tanaka 1996.6.26-1998.6.18
The 5th Shuji Doshita 1994.6.22-1996.6.26
The 4th Masamichi Shimura 1992.6.25-1994.6.22
The 3rd Saburo Tsuji 1990.6.23-1992.6.25
The 2nd Setsuo Osuga 1988.6.24-1990.6.23
The 1st Akio Fukumura 1986.7.24-1998.6.24