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COMPUTER WORLD '91

The international symposium Computer World '91, held in Osaka, Japan,

from 24-26 September 1991, is summarized.

by David K. Kahaner

INTRODUCTION

Kansai area. It already has an interna- Mr. Christfried Webers

tional airport, but the new Kansai Technology Manager, Deutsches Since 1986 an annual international airport, in the bay, will become a major Kulturzentrum symposium is held in the Kansai area of siphon for visitors. The Japanese 7-5-56 Akasaka Japan under the name “Computer Government, well aware of the prob- Minato-ku, Tokyo 107 World ’xx"--even years in Kobe, odd lems with congested Tokyo, is trying Tel: (03) 3586-7104 years in Osaka. The general idea of (at least on paper) to decentralize itself. Fax: (03) 3586-7187 these is to promote computer usage

While there are 3.5 million Japanese E-mail: webers@gmd.co.jp and make various first-hand develop- living in Osaka, it is much less conments accessible to the community at gested than Tokyo, and like citizens of My thanks to both Inokuchi and Webers large. This year's CW'91 was spon- Chicago, Osaka's citizens claim that for their valuable additions to this report. sored by the Osaka Government, the they are more human, more civilized, The general chairman of the orgaMinistry of International Trade and their food is more sophisticated, their nizing committee was Industry (MITI), and the Kansai Insti- language is more refined, their women tute of Information Systems. Support are more attractive, etc., than those in Dr. Tetsuro Kawakami was also provided by the Japan Keirin Tokyo.

Chairman of the Board and CEO Association through its Machine Indus- My invitation to attend was from Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. try Promotion Funds; these funds are the program chairman,

4-5-33 Kitahama part of the profits that the association

Chuo-ku, Osaka 541, Japan had obtained from the sponsoring of Prof. Seiji Inokuchi

Tel: +81-6-220-4061 bicycle races in Japan. The symposium Dept of Control Engineering

Fax: +81-6-222-6476 is also held as part of Japan's informa- Osaka University tion month (September). This year's Faculty of Engineering Science

1-2-12 Motoakasaka theme was Multimedia Technology and Toyonaka, Osaka 560, Japan

Minato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan Artificial Intelligence, with the sub- Tel: +81-6-844-1151

Tel: +81-3-3423-5411 goal of making computers more friendly Fax: +81-6-857-7664

Fax: +81-3-3423-5008 to people. The symposium was held at E-mail: inokuchi@inolab.ce.osakaOsaka's International House, a beauti- u.ac.jp

Considering the size of the organizaful, modern facility with large conven

tion that he manages, it seemed really tion exhibit and lecture space.

whom I had met at an earlier meeting. remarkable to me that Dr. Kawakami Osaka is to Tokyo very much what Prof. Inokuchi's interests are in three- actually attended many of the sympoChicago is to New York, its Midwestern dimensional (3D) vision systems, and sium sessions. manufacturing heart. Like Chicagoans, one of his systems is used at the The CW '91 symposium combined Osakans are very proud of their accom- National Aeronautics and Space Admin- about two dozen lectures in two paralplishments, but they also have a slightly istration (NASA) in the United States. lel sessions and also a small vendor defensive stance when comparing cities. Also attending many of the sessions exhibit. Exhibitors were mostly Japanese Osaka is also the major city in Japan's was

vendors demonstrating artificial intelligence (AI) type software products; one of the most interesting was Fujitsu's The symposium has released a Pro- will address the issues of drought, (see below). About two dozen ceedings with papers, some in Japanese. poverty, and suffering worldwide Westerners were in attendance; most Copies are available by contacting and will develop sustainable of these presented invited rather than

systems and products which lay submitted lectures. Simultaneous Secretariat: Computer World '91 the basis for the form of society Japanese/English translation was avail- Kansai Institute of Information

we wish to see as we enter the able. In the past I have been disap- Systems

21st century. pointed with the quality of such trans- Osaka Edimae the 1st Bldg, 8F lations, but in this case the translators 1-3-1-800, Umeda

Many later speakers echoed his remarks really did an outstanding job, and I Kita-ku, Osaka 530, Japan

in their own terms. believe that very little was misunder- Tel: +81-6-346-2841

For me, the most inspiring paper stood.

Fax: +81-6-346-2443

was presented by K. Kikue (NHK) Total attendance was a few hundred.

describing an experiment with sixth This was below the expectations of the SUMMARY COMMENTS graders (12 years old) at a Japanese organizers, who claimed that there were

public school. NHK has prepared a several other competing conferences In a recent report (D.K. Kahaner, 15-minute high definition television during the same week. By Tokyo stan- “Virtual Reality,” Scientific Informa- (HDTV) program showing how indusdards attendance was very low. Last tion Bulletin 16(4), 43-45 (1991)] I already trial progress has destroyed the forests year's supercomputing symposium drew mentioned eye tracking research at ATR in Japan. There is also an HDTV textseveral thousand, at least to gawk. I and virtual reality activities at the

and virtual reality activities at the book containing photographs electronattribute this low turnout mostly to the University of Washington, both papers ically printed in HDTV and a multimuch more modest exhibit venue, and presented here at CW '91.

media workstation. Using this workalso to the fairly technical content of M. Cooley (FAST, Brussels) gave a station, the students (in small groups) the papers. This symposium has posi- mesmerizing opening talk about the prepared multimedia presentations tioned itself about halfway between a implications of technology, generally, about environmental issues, splicing in highly specialized technical meeting and and computing, specifically, on coun- visual and sound bits from NHK's and an exhibition. There were interesting tries within Europe. I won't either their own materials in whatever order papers presented on a variety of topics summarize or comment on his Europe- seemed appropriate to them. The sophisrelated to advanced use of computers. related remarks as my focus is Asia (histicated workstation software includes Everyone could find something to listen paper is given in the Proceedings). image menus and allows the students to and appreciate, but at the same time However, with respect to the more AI to edit image and sound from a laserthe wide range meant that it was not related material, Cooley pointed out disk and also video tape that they shot possible to glean any significant national the need for more anthropomorphic themselves. Kikue showed a video taken trends except the obvious ones that systems, for expert systems that sup- of the students working together on computers are getting more sophisti- port rather than replace humans, and their projects and then presenting them cated, more entwined into our culture, for systems that reduce the cultural in NHK's “future classroom.” The latand more user friendly. Almost all the imperialism of English; the need to ter was filled with students, faculty, papers were overviews, ranging from free designers from menu-driven sys- and parents watching their kids. Anybody economic

prospects in the European tems; the necessity of getting out from who doubts that people will pay for Community (EC) to network capabili- under our obsession with rule-based HDTV should watch this video to absorb ties in Japan; thus, researchers could systems; a refocus on education rather the excitement and enthusiasm of these get an excellent picture of a large part than training; and overall more empha- children and then ask themselves if of some field but probably wouldn't sis on human-centered systems. He these 12 year olds will be satisfied with learn much about very new results that ended by saying,

lesser technology as they grow into were not already being communicated

consumers. through more specialized channels--in It is a profound responsibility of Researchers from Fujitsu described short, an excellent opportunity to learn all those involved to ensure that a new Al environment developed in about one or more new fields but per- we develop forms of science and Japan and only available at the moment haps not quite so good to learn about technology which will help to for Fujitsu systems) built with the folnew results in

heal a wounded planet, which lowing requirements in mind.

your field.

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