Thorough debate on “ubiquitous”
Pursuit of next-generation solutions
A forum meeting called BITS2004 was held for a two-day period on June 8 and 9 under the auspices of Nihon Unisys, Ltd. At the Ubiquitous Summit, the opening event for the executive stage, famous people from different fields thoroughly debated what “ubiquitous” was. A lot of insightful views were expressed.
Mr. Akifumi Onaka, the president of Aoyama Planning Arts and the moderator of the debate, delivered the opening speech, in which he said, “I would like to see Japan introduce ubiquitous computing technology to the rest of the world,” indicating the direction of the Ubiquitous Summit. Then, Mr. Teruyasu Murakami, the Chief Counselor of Nomura Research Institute, Ltd., started the debate, saying: “The Internet is the revolution for personal computers, but the ubiquitous computing technology is revolutionary just about anywhere. It drastically changes the way people connect with one another.”
Mr. Hiroshi Tasaka, a professor of Tama University, stated: “The control will be shifted from corporations to consumers who will gain access to massive amounts of information through the ubiquitous technology revolution. This means that consumers will make choices based on feedback from other consumers. Not all companies will find this comfortable.” He then expressed his expectations, saying: “Immersed in floods of information, consumers will place great value on the coordination of information, and that may create the potential for new business opportunities.”
In response to the remark by Mr. Tasaka, Professor Jiro Kokuryo of Keio University, mentioned: “In the ubiquitous age, businesses will be required to be highly reliable. For example, one question is how to guarantee the reliability of the enormous amount of data. Companies that earn public trust will be able to survive.”
Mr. Kenichiro Senoh, a professor of the University of Tokyo, pointed out, “Now, we are in an age in which we are experiencing a shift of focus from needs to risk concerns. This means people are more interested in having anxieties eliminated than in having shortages resolved. How to make use of ubiquitous computing technology is key in an age like this.”
Professor Katsumi Hoshino of Tama University, the chairman of the Japan Engineers Federation, said in a firm tone, “In the era of ubiquitous computing, privacy is like a land mine. In addition to firewalls, “moral walls” will be indispensable. Without these, it will be impossible for ubiquitous networks to come into wide use.” Mr. Hoshino assertively added, “An age will come sooner or later in which we will see corporate leaders step down taking responsibility for the leakage of personal information. The only way to prevent such leaks is to improve the moral standards of employees about information.”
Mr. Shinichi Tanaka, the president of FleishmanHillard Japan, expressed a somewhat different view, pointing out: “Ubiquitous networks will make it even harder to see what people think.” He continued, “These networks will cause an imbalance between direct face-to-face communication and indirect communication, making people prone to be influenced by wrong assumptions. In a time like this, it will be vital to keep sending consistent messages.”
Professor Ken Sakamura of the University of Tokyo made a point, saying: “In the world of technology, people tend to make global standards out of anything. Ubiquitous computing technology should be based on local needs. You will never succeed as long as you have the mentality of doing something just because it is also done in the U.S.”
At the debate, the topic of “ubiquitous,” often deliberated only from the perspective of technology, was discussed from many different angles. The summit, aimed at revealing the essence of ubiquitous computing, successfully ended after a spirited discussion.