Vol.3 No.3 2010

Interview : Meta-engineering that promotes innovation−235−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.3 No.3 (2010) be the core technologies. It also says that any single field of them will not be enough to address global issues and that converging multiple fields will be necessary. “Converge” means “to bring together”. While the four fields of NBIC are originally independent, they should be converged keeping the original parts. (Akamatsu) Does that mean that they do not merge to create a new field?(Suzuki) It’s okay if a new field emerges, but the original fields must also remain.It is “converg-ing” rather than “converg-ence” probably because the Americans want to express the dynamism that things are occurring this very moment. In some places like Europe and Korea, it is called “convergence technology”. I think this shows the character of the countries.Japanese soccer is like Japanese innovation: why?(Akamatsu) The keyword of the American converging technology is the “expansion of capacity”, and it seems to be trying to create a future of technological utopia. On the other hand, Europe seems to be dealing with the problems at hand.However, I feel there is no clear picture of the specific issues, or what must be solved by NBIC. In the task force, did you discuss what is insufficient about CT?(Suzuki) When we were discussing, the Japanese national soccer team came to my mind. They’ve got wonderful skills, are good at passing, and dominate the ball 60 % of the time in international matches. They are excellent at passing to switch sides. However, when they advance before the goal, no one shoots. They can’t score. They end up with a draw at best. The Japanese soccer shows the situation of the Japanese innovation. The countries that can score and win aren’t necessarily great at teamwork, though they certainly have wonderful individual skills. But they’re capable of those scoring shots, and show superior concentration when they have the chance to score.In the United States where innovations continue to flow out, the Americans are great at picking out unseen issues. They find issues to which they want to find solutions, and then spend full-force effort to find the solutions. The Japanese are good at finding a solution for a given issue under limited conditions, but are very weak when they are told to “think of something” without any limits or conditions. You cannot score unless you approach the unseen issues and seek solutions. You must think what is behind the visible issue, what are the real issues, and what are the hidden issues.We lack the ability to find unseen or potential issues, and then to solve them using science and technology. We thought those were the issues for Japanese engineering.Japanese and American engineers think differently(Akamatsu) You mentioned that the Americans are good at finding the issues while the Japanese are good at solving problems under certain conditions. I think there are American and Japanese engineers working at General Electric. Do you see their differences?(Suzuki) I think they are different in the way they come up with ideas. When a Japanese company does business, it thinks, “We are capable of doing this. How could we make this into business?” However, in the GE style, the thinking is, “We, as GE, want to do this kind of business”. A project starts in a top-down style, where the top people think what we have, what we don’t have, and what we should do. In Japan, the bottom-up style is very strong, where the technology that the company possesses is molded into a new product.(Akamatsu) The bottom-up approach is a way “to capitalize one’s strength”, and this method was a textbook example of diversification during the period of rapid economic growth. In the case of GE, this isn’t necessarily the case.(Suzuki) That’s right. We often refer to “total available market (TAM)”. For example, GE was very strong in power generation, but withdrew from the electric power network business 20 or 30 years ago. However, there is an 80 trillion yen market for electric power around the world, and we decided to take up electric power network business again. The technology remaining at GE was for transformers, and there wasn’t anything for the breaker or the power system control. So we considered what we had to do to restart the business. Since we had hardly any technology left, what do we do to fill in the lacking technology? The options were: engage in R&D ourselves, acquire companies, or form partnerships with others.In the case of a Japanese company, if it has the technology for the transformer, it tries to do electric business by making a line-up of peripheral products for the transformer. It is totally different.(Akamatsu) GE is not of the bottom-up style. I think the corporate


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