Overview of the International Symposium of the 18th Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan

Picture Symposium 2017

  • Date:
    Friday, August 4 2017
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Technology, Culture and the Future"
  • Details:
    • ○Opening Address
      Satoshi Iue
      (Representative Director,Asia Pacific Forum,Awaji Conference Japan)
    • ○Welcome Tribute
      Toshizo Ido
      (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)
    • ○Awards Ceremony for the 16th Asia Pacific Research Prize(Iue Prize)
    • ○Explanation for the purpose of the Awaji Conference
      Shigeyuki ABE
      (Professor, Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University)
    • ○Commemorative Lectures
      Crosstalk “Realizing Intelligent Systems for Supporting the Future Societies”
      Speaker:Hiroshi ISHIGURO (Professor, Department of Systems Innovation, Osaka University/Robotics Engineer)
      Hideshi HAMAGUCHI (Business Designer)
      "A Talk about Design backing to the Past for Incubating Future Design"
      Speaker: Eisuke TACHIKAWA
      (Founder/CEO/Design Strategist, NOSIGNER Co., LTD./Guest Associate Professor/Graduate School of System Design and Management, Keio University)
      "Why Hatsune Miku is so Popular in the World?"
      Speaker: Hiroyuki ITO
      (CEO, Crypton Future Media, Inc.)
    • ○Coordinator:
      Sachiko KUBOTA
      (Professor, Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University)

The international symposium began with an opening address by Representative Director Satoshi Iue of the Awaji Conference Japan, a welcome tribute by Governor Toshizo Ido of Hyogo Prefecture, and the Awards Ceremony for the 16th Asia Pacific Research Prize. This was followed by an explanation of the purpose of the Awaji Conference by Professor Shigeyuki Abe of the Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University; and commemorative lectures by four speakers, with Professor Sachiko Kubota of the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University, serving as coordinator. Summaries of the commemorative lectures are as follows:

Commemorative Lecture: Crosstalk “Realizing Intelligent Systems for Supporting Future Societies”
Speakers: Hiroshi Ishiguro(Robotics Engineer/Professor, Department of Systems Innovation, Osaka University)
Hideshi Hamaguchi
(Business Designer)

Hiroshi Ishiguro
1.What is Identity?

The creation of things that are really like humans makes me consider a truly important question: what is identity? The question is deeply connected with the genuine significance of a robot society. In that sense, I feel that as a mirror reflecting humans, robots themselves will become a part of culture.

2.Examples of Humanoid Robots

At a venture company Vstone, they create robots that are combined with speech recognition and chatbot systems. Although the speech recognition has some more room for improvement, it is now reaching its application stage.
At the Zensho Group, they are now working on a demonstration test to verify the appropriateness of using robots at their restaurants for guiding customers. Such robots are expected to serve as an icebreaker for restaurant customers to start their conversation. Information media today has an imbalanced focus on the virtual world, and I feel that robots have a role of bringing the media slightly back to the real world.

3.Why is Japan Strong in the Field of Robots?

I feel that all the reasons for the excellence of Japan in the field of robot research can be integrated into what I call the “hypothesis of island-country mentality.” In Japan, the gap between the rich and the poor is very small. Japanese do not discriminate people from people nor things from things. As a result, there is a belief that spirit resides in everything. In addition, people in Japan are proud of the country’s high-level manufacturing.
Japan is highly populous but peaceful with little gap between the rich and the poor, and if such a peaceful country exists, this is the reason why Japan is strong in the field of robots.

4.What Can Be Expressed with Androids

Some of the androids that I’ve created are now used for performing android dramas. The important thing here is the fact that the audience of android dramas are moved as deeply as they are when watching ordinary dramas.
Androids stimulate people’s cultural mindset, and make people consider what spirit is. Although there has been so far some distance between the progress of scientific technology and the spirit of humans, I foresee that the focus of future research will be placed on something deeper and closer to humans, such as people’s spirit, awareness, and emotions.
I’ve created androids of the rakugo master Beicho Katsura and the great writer Soseki Natsume, both of whom have already passed away. Android research is deeply connected with not only research on understanding people but also with arts and literature.

5.Android Conversing Autonomously

I am also engaged in research on robots that can converse autonomously. For example, by combining chatbot with one of my androids featuring a wide variety of human-type modalities, I’ve succeeded in realizing a truly human-like and dynamic conversation system.

6.Summary – Robot as an Aspect of Japanese Culture

A pile of these technologies will lead to the achievement of a robot society in the near future. I feel that a combination of humans and technology will result in the generation of some new forms of culture. Moreover, I imagine that some forms of culture could be created by robots alone. Anyway, robots are an important aspect of Japanese culture. It will be interesting if we see the future in which that aspect develops into a culture of all humans.


Hideshi Hamaguchi
1.Culture and Intellectual Systems

I believe that culture has some mechanisms and modes, which are culture codes. As a result of the patterning of people all over the world based on the relationships between people and items, people can be divided into four categories in terms of their attitudes toward heterogeneity and homogeneity.
On the transverse axis are culture codes regarding how to respond to heterogeneity: “A and B” and “A or B.”
In the culture of “A or B,” people select A or B instantly. This is a Western attitude in some way.
Contrary to this is “A and B.” People acting based on this concept cannot make a selection, and they wonder why do they need to choose; and they want to select both. This attitude is somewhat Japanese.
On the vertical axis are attitudes toward homogeneity: “more is better” and “less is more.” People with the former attitude want everything that they can take, while those with the latter attitude are humble enough to try to make a selection. Regarding mutual understanding, those in the categories located next to each other can understand each other.
On the other hand, those in the categories located diagonally can scarcely understand each other. However, since they are really different from each other, they have interest in each other and try to learn from each other. They are, thus, in a truly interesting relationship.
Each culture has its own code. People can understand people acting based on the same code, while they cannot understand people acting based on a different code. I am not sure whether the model above is correct or not, but there are at least things that can be explained with the model and be generated in abundance through the model.
The key lies in that we need to understand cultural differences systematically. We cannot handle such differences appropriately as long as we engage in discussion on a qualitative basis. To explore technology, culture and the future, it is high time that we understand cultural differences systematically.


In this regard, the first proposal that I would like to present is “Logic to Culture.” It is about time to introduce more logic into culture. If we cannot understand this point, we will not be able to achieve what we would like to achieve.
The second proposal is “Love to Intellectual Systems.” Regarding relationships between intellectual systems, humans, and society, I believe that we should not try to seek a conclusion now out of our relationship with intellectual systems.
People in the Asia-Pacific region have a culture that strikes the best balance, while compromising and sometimes achieving simplification. Actually, this is the best culture for developing intellectual systems.
With this background, I would like to propose the followings: more logic should be introduced into the field of culture, technology should be developed with affection; and these efforts should be launched in the Asia-Pacific region.


Ishiguro: As a robot researcher, I feel cultural differences. Robots that can fulfill some specific tasks without any mistake fall into the category of “A or B,” while robots that can do all types of tasks at an acceptable level fall into the category of “A and B.” The latter type is very similar to humanoid robots.


Hamaguchi:A system has a task-oriented transverse axis of inputs and outputs, and a vertical axis of objects and evaluations necessary to regulate the system. In terms of the future of AI, what we need to focus on the most is the vertical axis of the ability of AI to discover objects on its own and the ability of humans to evaluate what the AI has done.
Although this might be difficult to try in the U.S. due to their religious beliefs, Japanese people could try it. I feel that an exciting part of AI research is how to work on the ambiguous elements of the vertical axis.


Ishiguro: In research on robots with intentions and desires, we are striving to complement such ambiguous objects and make the necessary objects partially. Without it, such robots cannot get along well with humans.


Hamaguchi:What people in Asia need to do is to focus on tasks not related to the transverse axis but to the vertical axis.


Ishiguro:The U.S. is a task-oriented country, where it is necessary to present some clear evaluation standards. Accordingly, I do not think that people in the country will accept the idea of robots that can do various things or develop friendships with humans, if the evaluation standards remain vague.


Hamaguchi:I think that it depends on the timing. Today, AI has not yet been fixed, so we need to try all types of possibilities. In addition, we need to identify the overall vision and make the necessary simplifications.


Ishiguro:When engaging in research on robots, I feel that people in the Asia-Pacific region do not have to acquire a European-type or American-type mindset. They are trying hard to do so simply because clear American-type or European-type standards are emphasized in society.


Hamaguchi:In my opinion, it is still uncontrollable if we keep using the word “culture” in our communications. We need to discuss using a model as we are doing now, even if such a model is actually wrong.


Ishiguro:It seems to me that today’s research on culture is a part of research on history. That type of research is based on analyses of people in the past. I think that we should devise some new scheme for shifting the research focus toward how to increase the number of people with, say, a Japanese mindset.


Hamaguchi: The patterning of technology and culture should be based on logic.


Ishiguro:I think it would be good if we could design a path toward the creation of a combined culture in the future between humans and machinery, or humans and robots. Each country has its own path for widespread use of robots, however, no clear vision has been presented yet.

For image recognition and speech recognition, although target values have been set based on human functions, humans do not always act properly. In this sense, I do not think such attitude is odd.


Hamaguchi: The interfaces in society can be divided into three types: mobile, immobile, and semi-immobile. Mobile interfaces have been designed over the past decade by Apple and Google, which exert dominant influence today. Japan and other Asian countries need to demonstrate their presence in the remaining two types.


Ishiguro:There have been many failures in attempts to realize modality through speech alone, so we need to have a multimodal system like robots. I feel that it may be possible to create an interface that can exceed the boundaries of simple speech recognition through the Japanese cultural approach of opting for “A and B” and accepting “less is more”.



“A Talk about Design backing to the Past for Incubating Future Design”
Speaker: Eisuke Tachikawa(Founder/CEO/Design Strategist, NOSIGNER Co., LTD./Guest Associate Professor, Graduate School of System Design and Management, Keio University)

1.Comprehensive Designer Exceeding the Boundaries of Each Specialized Field

I work in the field of graphic design, and I am engaged in visual design of flat surfaces, such as logo marks and books. I also work in the field of spatial design. Studying architecture at university, I originally wanted to be an architect. One day, it struck me that everything related to shapes and humans has architectural significance. This made me gradually diversify my design to cover other fields. In addition, I also work in the field of product design. Thus, I work in the three fields of graphic design, spatial design, and product design.

2.Design Is Not Something New

In fact, design is not something really new. There has been little progress in the field of design and modeling. Many designers try to pursue universal forms. I feel that they have the conviction that such universal forms will not be outdated.

3.What Do Designers Do?

What determines whether a design is good or bad? The word “design” originates from the Latin word “designare,” meaning “symbolize.” A design concerns a shape or a symbol, and as a matter of course, each design has a reason why the design has its shape. Accordingly, creating a shape is inseparable from considering the relationship to establish with. I believe that design means finding a shape for improving a relationship. A reason lies behind and how a tie is established with the reason-this is the concept of creating a design.

4.Change from Design-Oriented Mindset to Evolution-Oriented Mindset

The work of design can be roughly divided into two parts: finding a relationship and creating a shape appropriate to that relationship. Designers need to work on these two parts simultaneously.
The focus of a design-oriented mindset lies in finding a relationship but creating a shape appropriate to that relationship requires master-level skills.
Since the key lies in considering the relationship and the shape simultaneously, I feel that a design-oriented mindset which lacks a viewpoint for creating a shape is slightly insufficient.
Feeling awkward about the structure of the current design-oriented mindset, I am wondering if there is any thinking process that will lead to the essence of the reason why the relevant item has its shape. What I am interested in today is how creatures evolve.
It seems that design relates to a wide variety of shapes that are seen in the history of evolution. A picture of the evolution of creatures shows me something like a pattern of an appropriate evolution of creatures. This pattern closely resembles how to conceive ideas.
People create something new because they would like to evolve. If I think that way, I feel I can find answers to many questions.

Now, I would like to share with all of you some tips that I use for conceiving ideas and innovation under inspiration from evolution.
1: Considering Evolution
Actually, you can draw a picture of the evolution not only of creatures but also of other items. An examination of such evolutionary pictures will lead you to understand that evolution varies depending on the purpose.
2: Realizing Fusion
Fusion, meaning incorporating one thing into another to achieve symbiosis, is a very fundamental concept of design. Repetition of fusion without changing shapes is commonly found in both tools and evolution.
3: Dismantling and Disjointing
When you try to understand something, you should dismantle the target into individual components and consider the reason for each component. Considering how to ensure that each component has many more functions is very similar to asking what a good design is.
4: Changing Shapes
By changing the shape or scale of an existing item, you can create something new. If you change the shape only slightly, it means that the evolutionary cost will be low. If the evolutionary cost is low, it means that the idea cost will be also low.
5: Changing Colors and Patterns
Changing colors and patterns is, perhaps, a way of survival with extremely low evolutionary cost. In addition, it is the easiest way of conceiving ideas.
6: Understanding Patterns of Making People Feel Comfortable Intuitionally
If you pursue the question of what appeals to people intuitionally, you will eventually find that there are some similar patterns in your answers. Accordingly, it is truly important to understand such patterns in making people feel comfortable intuitionally.
7: Being Aware of Dynamics and Optimum Levels
If you create something into which outside dynamics are reflected appropriately, people will find it beautiful.
If you pursue beauty, some relationship will be generated between logical structure and aesthetic beauty.
8: Creating a New Flow
Creating a new flow means causing innovation. It is truly crucial to consider how to create a new flow between areas that are not connected with each other.

People cannot evolve easily, but people can create things. I feel that this is a form of people instinctually taking a step forward into the future. In addition, people consider what types of technology should be used to take such a step; this is our nature.

Commemorative lecture: "Why Hatsune Miku is So Popular in the World?"
Speaker: Hiroyuki Ito (CEO, Crypton Future Media, Inc.)
1.Creation of Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku, a software product using technology of synthesizing human voices, is the third VOCALOID that my company has released. Each of our VOCALOIDs has its own character.

Unlike our prior VOCALODs, Hatsune Miku was released when video-sharing sites had already been used extensively. In this regard, songs created using Hatsune Miku were released mainly online with visual presentations.
Moreover, the character Hatsune Miku inspired users to create works, from which different works were also derived one after another. The phenomenon of this “chain of creation” spread mainly through video-sharing sites.
As a result, not only the software product Hatsune Miku but also the character Hatsune Miku has grown popular.

2.Efforts to Raise Creators’ Motivation

In line with the spread of chain of creation, copyright issues arose. My company owns the copyrights on the illustration Hatsune Miku as an original work. According to the Copyright Law, if a derivative work inspired by the original work is released online and a third party wishes to use the derivative work, the third party needs to obtain permission from both my company as the holder of the copyright of the original work and from the creator of the derivative work. With this background, we considered establishing a simple rights-clearance system in order not to stop the chain of creation. To do so, we needed to work on two things: 1) copyright clearance of our original work and 2) one of fan arts created by fans.
To address 1), we established the Piapro Character License (PCL) and placed it on the Internet. For 2), we established the posting site Piapro, where those who used submitted works were encouraged to express their gratitude to the creators of the submitted works. Such appreciation boosts up the creators’ motivation to produce subsequent works.
We, thus, ensured at an early stage that the chain of creation would evolve into a chain of empathy or a chain of appreciation. I found this was very good.

3.Cooperation in Commercialization and Collaboration with Those from Different Fields

As a result of widespread use of Hatsune Miku on a global scale, some of those producing music or illustrations with Hatsune Miku became star creators.
Such creators began to assert that they wanted to commercialize their works. We provide support for such commercialization in the belief that their efforts and creation achievements needed to be rewarded. We offer such support not only in Japan but also in many parts of the world. We sometimes engage in collaborative efforts with globally renowned brands and established Japanese companies.
In addition, since many songs are created with Hatsune Miku throughout the world, and there are many fans around the world, we operate a label to release works through iTunes and Amazon. For collaborative efforts, we have art projects with museums and music projects with opera companies and orchestras.
Since Hatsune Miku originally started as a technology for synthesizing singing voices, the software has great affinity with technology, leading to the use of it for research and development in a wide variety of genres, such as VR and robots.

4.CG Concerts by Hatsune Miku

Concerts of Hatsune Miku have been held in overseas cities, including New York, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The first foreign concert was held in 2014 in Jakarta. Such concerts coincide with exhibitions of illustration works of Hatsune Miku by creators, and also with workshops regarding how to create music or other works using Hatsune Miku. The most recent event was a concert tour covering 10 cities in North America in 2016.
In addition, the annual event Magical Mirai is held at Makuhari Messe. This event also includes workshops, such as those for creating works, playing music, and creating illustrations using tablet computers.
Moreover, Hatsune Miku often joins collaboration works with singers, ballet companies, Japanese drummers, and kabuki artists.

5.Who is Hatsune Miku?

The important point that we need to note when considering Hatsune Miku is that Hatsune Miku is a singer. Regardless of ethnicity and background, everybody feels sad when listening to sad songs, and feels happy when listening to happy songs. This makes music sheer art.
In terms of fan demographics, Hatsune Miku is popular especially among teenage girls, whether they are in Europe, Asia, or Africa.
Cyberspace spreads throughout the world exceeding national boundaries. This means that the voice of Hatsune Miku was predestined to spread throughout the world. Her voice strikes a chord especially with teenage girls, even if they cannot understand the meaning of the lyrics, and I feel that this is one of the advantageous features of Hatsune Miku.
Hatsune Miku has something in common with joruri, traditional Japanese puppet theater. As CG, Hatsune Miku cannot move alone. Creators behind her make efforts to move Hatsune Miku very dynamically. In addition, joruri puppets and Hatsune Miku are also similar to each other in terms of their popularity underpinned by non-professional creators.
I have joy and pride in having disseminated such popularity from here in Japan and making a strong impact in the world.

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