Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR)

    Tohru Asami,
 Although we are gradually overcoming COVID-19, which started in Wuhan, China, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has made the world even more chaotic. Over the past quarter century, Japan has pursued a transition from being an economic animal to a country of culture and tourism, represented by anime. Today’s slogan is “a safe and secure society.” A similar society was France before World War I, the era called the Belle Epoque. Despite losing the Franco-Prussian War, Paris was commonly viewed as the capital of the world, with its impressionism and technology. Unfortunately, World War I and the Spanish flu destroyed the society of the Belle Epoque, turning it into what Paul Valery called a “society of anxiety.” Likewise, there are signs now of a transition from a “safe and secure society” to the next “anxiety society.” Existentialism was actively studied as a way to overcome the anxiety of society 100 years ago, but what should we rely on in the 21st century?
 ATR was established in 1986 with the aim of promoting pioneering and original research in the fields of information and communication, and it started a series of research projects on virtual reality (VR), telework, intersatellite optical communication, and neural network-based speech recognition. These innovations have taken 30 years to be commercialized. The relevant technologies have now matured to the level where some fear that they will take away human jobs. However, these technologies require a large amount of learning data, so the jobs that might be replaced are akin to menial labor that was done by slaves in many societies until the 19th century. A hundred years ago, Charlie Chaplin made people laugh at this alienation in his movie “Modern Times.” Freeing workers from routine toil and mindless repetition can be seen as human liberation in a sense. ATR has been promoting research activities jointly with research institutes through competitive funding, and our challenge is to make technology in brain information science and robotics create a purpose in life and support people’s hearts.
 “Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan” aims to create a “life-shining society.” I have a dream of a society in which humans, freed from menial work and armed with neuroinformatics and robotics, engage in truly creative activities. It is also true that many people talk about the Expo as if it were someone else’s problem. However, as the Japanese word “matsuri” (festival) evokes the idea of “matsuri goto” (politics ), festivals were events that included all members of society. In today’s terms, it was an inclusive event. Today’s festivals are just activities to view for many of us, but I would like to make the year 2025 an opportunity to return festivals to their original emphasis on social ties. ATR wants to collaborate with domestic and foreign universities, research institutes, companies, and other partners and, moreover, to use the expo as a showcase for our technologies of brain information science and robotics that can solve various problems in our dynamically changing society.
 I warmly appreciate your continued support.

Tohru Asami, President