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Background of Global COE formation

Osaka University’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technology (IST), the research site for the present Global COE Program, was established in 2002 with the integration of information science and biology as one of its main conceptual focuses.  It took its cue from the government’s 3rd Science and Technology Basic Plan, which placed heavy emphasis on the advancement of integrative sciences.  This concept was embodied in one of IST’s primary theme, “Biologically Inspired Approaches to Advanced Information Technology,” which was selected as a Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)’s 21st Century COE Program, beginning also in 2002.  This program received the highest level of evaluation after its end in 2007.

Currently, the construction of a “ubiquitous information society” is progressing rapidly in Japan.  At IST, we have been discussing the meaning of an “ultimate” or “post-ubiquitous” information society.  As a result, we established as our next goal in the research and education of information systems the creation of an “ambient information society.”  In December 2005, this plan was included as a part of the graduate school’s “Global 10 Plan” (an effort to be a member of the top 10 universities in the world in the information sciences).

The goals of IST’s Global COE Program (GCOE) are to further develop the achievements of the 21st Century COE Program [1], and, based on the “Global 10” Plan, to advance research and foster human resources in the creation of an ambient information society.  The GCOE not only includes IST faculty and staff, but also draws participation of high-powered members from the University’s Graduate School of Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering Science, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Graduate School of Language and Culture, Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Cybermedia Center. 

An ambient information environment is a living space in which information technology is blended to create interactions between the environment and human beings, and which harmonizes these interactions to naturally lead to a more suitable state (for example, to allow one to learn with greater ease, or to enjoy greater intellectual productivity.)  For us in IST’s GCOE to build an ambient information environment that supports difficult-to-predict human actions and large-scale information systems with volatile dynamic changes, we are expanding on biological approaches to information technology.  For the creation of this information environment, all areas from the design and construction of hardware and software to network technology, data engineering, and interface engineering, encompassing both the lower and higher levels of an information system, are targets of research.  We are also advancing research in system security and dependability as technologies concerned with these multiple layers.  Furthermore, we are delving into research of natural language processing and interpersonal social psychology because they deal deeply with human interactions.  From developments in these research activities, we aim to achieve major breakthroughs that are not realizable by simply extending conventional information technology.

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