Vol.3 No.3 2010

Interview : Meta-engineering that promotes innovation−237−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.3 No.3 (2010) However, when GE looks at the root of the issue, if the client says, “I want some juice”, the salesman will ask, “Why do you want juice?” When the client answers, “Because I’m thirsty”, the salesman comes back with water to sell. This will solve the issues of the client’s thirst. Another client may say, “I want cola”, but maybe he is just thirsty. Then, the salesman sells cups of water to, say, 10 thirsty clients. If he sells water for 1 dollar a cup, the sales will be 10 dollars. Since the original cost of water is low, for example, if the original cost of 10 cups of water is 5 dollars, the profit is 5 dollars.As you can see, the way of doing business is different, but I feel that the process of asking “what is really necessary” is lacking in Japan. I think the engineers themselves must work on the issues with such an attitude. The Japanese look at “how”. The “how-to” books sell well at bookstores. But behind the “how” is a “what”, and one must investigate what is really important and “why” it is important to get to the hidden or potential issues. I think this is fairly close to synthesiology practiced at AIST.(Akamatsu) Taking the example of the juice, “what” is the level where the person is saying he wants juice, and “how” is what kind of juice should be made. But “why” will investigate the reason the person wants juice, and that’s because he’s thirsty.In conventional engineering, “what” is given as a problem, and the engineer figures out “how” to make something. You are suggesting that the engineer must return to the cause of “what” and look into “why”.(Suzuki) Discussions are continued in our task force, and I think there are two major points. One is education. How can we educate people who can realize such things through education? Another is to research meta-engineering itself. Including case studies, can we study it academically? Currently, we are pursuing these two lines.In education, debate is always a part of the courses in the United States. The discussion progresses by changing the settings and perspectives. Debate is not preferred in Japan.(Akamatsu) To switch the perspective and discuss what should be done; I feel this type of training is insufficient in Japan.(Suzuki) The other day, there was a symposium on security by photographing the people on the streets, organized by the Engineering Academy of Japan and the Royal Academy of Engineering of U.K. From Japan, there were discussions about how pattern recognition could be accomplished by TV cameras and at what angles the cameras should be set. The U.K. started the discussion on the institution itself, of how to protect personal information while maintaining national security. I felt that the way of looking at things was fairly different.(Akamatsu) I think the engineering people in Japan are accustomed to not saying anything about the system. Their job is doing technological things. ArtsHumanitiesSocial sciencesEnvironmentITRoboticsHealthEnergyMechatronicsElectronicsMedicalBiotechnologyNanoscienceMathematicsChemistryPhysics④③②①AmericanCTEnvironmental problemsEpidemicsTerrorismResources and energy depletionConverge sciences and technologiesExplore potential issuesIdentify and enhance required sciences and technologiesCreate social value by implementationPlace of meta-engineeringScience and technology activitiesGlobalizationSustainability of the earthShrinking and aging population in JapanPopulation growth in the worldChanges in economic landscapeGlobal issuesMeta engineering (Japanese ConvergingTechnology (CT): ①~④)


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