Tokyo Institute of Technology: Tokyo Tech Academy for Convergence of Materials and Informatics (TAC-MI) holds 2021 Intelligent Services: A Social Perspective workshop online

The Tokyo Tech Academy for Convergence of Materials and Informatics (TAC-MI) held a two-day online event entitled “Intelligent Services: A Social Perspective” on December 9 and 10 to brainstorm new social services for the future. This year’s event focused on materials and informatics for human rights and public well-being.

During this event, held annually, students aim to develop a broad perspective and boost their leadership skills by considering solutions to issues in future society. TAC-MI students, overseas students, and young and emerging researchers from industry form groups, identify issues in future society, and discuss and propose solutions to these issues while applying knowledge and experience from their own research fields.

Materials and informatics for human rights and public well-being
In the December workshop, twenty-one 1st-year doctoral students from TAC-MI and four researchers from industry formed six groups to think about human rights and public well-being issues. TAC-MI set the theme for the workshop and entrusted co-design, management, and facilitation to Leave a Nest Co., Ltd.

How does technology affect society and individuals? This was a core question that participants considered during the session. For example, technology can prevent crime and increase happiness in society, but individuals feel discomfort because privacy is violated. There is a conflict between human rights and public well-being. The goal of this workshop was to identify solutions using systems, rules, and technology that help establish an appropriate balance between human rights and well-being.

Entrepreneur developing technology and applications shares views
The first day began with an explanation of the workshop objectives to the participants. After this, Yoshie Wie, aba Inc. CEO, gave a special lecture on the development of beds with excretion sensors using AI and robot technology, and issues of human rights and public well-being in long-term care of the elderly. The students asked many questions about long-term care issues, and the session provided a good opportunity to think about human rights and public well-being.

Identifying issues of happiness among suffering individuals and majority around them
After the lecture, participants split into six online breakout rooms for group work, with one facilitator and one graphic recorder joining each team. Facilitators stimulated the discussion, while graphic recorders created visual representations of the participants’ ideas.

Pre-assignments were given to each group according to the three sub-themes of refugee crisis, privacy, and worker’s life. After reading news articles on the sub-themes, participants identified problems to be solved and exchanged opinions. In the next step, they attempted to understood the feelings and situations of the sufferers and people directly involved with the issue, and began considering how to solve issues concerning individual happiness, i.e. human rights, and majority happiness, i.e. public well-being.

At the end of the first day, each group presented how to solve these issues and received feedback from faculty members and facilitators.

Proposing new technology and application to solve issues
On the second day of the workshop, each group defined the ideal future that makes both sufferers and the majority happy. They discussed and proposed new technology that could help realize this defined future, the system and rules for the actual use of such new technology, and the application of technology to solve issues of happiness among suffering individuals and the majority around them.

Final presentations and awards
At the final presentation on the afternoon of the second day, each group proposed and presented future social services to solve issues in human rights and public well-being. Approximately 90 participants, including TAC-MI program staff members, industrial collaborators, and 2nd-year doctoral and master’s students of TAC-MI joined the session to listen to the final talks. Tokyo Tech Executive Vice President (EVP) for Education Tetsuya Mizumoto and Dean of the Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA) Noriyuki Ueda also participated as special guests.

After all six groups had spoken, a judges’ panel awarded the Innovation Award, the Practicality Award, and the Societal Impact Award to the following groups.

At the award ceremony, Mizumoto and Associate Director of TAC-MI Taro Hitosugi offered their comments on each team’s presentation and praised the efforts of the participants of the two-day workshop.

Greetings from Dean Ueda of ILA
Greetings from Dean Ueda of ILAJudges’ panel chairperson, Professor Masahiro Susa announcing winning teams
Judges’ panel chairperson, Professor Masahiro Susa announcing winning teams
EVP Mizumoto offering feedback
EVP Mizumoto offering feedbackTAC-MI Associate Director Hitosugi providing comments
TAC-MI Associate Director Hitosugi providing comments
Award Winners
Originality Award
Group 2: Refugee crisis — Construction of smart city for refugees

Group 2: Refugee crisis — Construction of smart city for refugees

Practicality Award
Group 5: Worker’s Life — Care-Share

Group 5: Worker’s Life — Care-Share

Social Impact Award
Group 3: Privacy — Guide In the Right Direction (GIRD)

Group 3: Privacy — Guide In the Right Direction (GIRD)

Other images of future social services
Group 1: Refugee crisis — Communication using cyberspace

Group 1: Refugee crisis — Communication using cyberspace

Group 4: Privacy — Deepfake technology

Group 4: Privacy — Deepfake technology

Group 6: Worker’s life — Mimamori Ransel – Monitoring school bag –

Group 6: Worker’s life — Mimamori Ransel – Monitoring school bag –

Embracing the challenge of discussions in English
Last year, this workshop was held in Japanese, but this year, group work and presentations were held in English to prepare participants for active roles in a global society. Six facilitators, including three from abroad, joined the group work to elicit the opinions of the students and stimulate discussions. During the limited time available over the two days, participants pondered issues for human rights and public well-being, discussed them in English, and proposed services for the future society. Moreover, the participation of real-time graphic recorders in these sessions helped expand and concretize ideas effectively.

Like last year, this workshop was again held online this year, but by incorporating new elements and taking on new challenges, outcomes exceeded preliminary expectations.

Participants during final presentation

Participants during final presentation
What is TAC-MI?
TAC-MI, established in January 2019 under the auspices of the Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education (WISE) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, aims to cultivate multi-talented individuals who can play a leading role in creating new industry and academic field involving materials science, information science, and social services. The program also places strong emphasis on working closely with industry.

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