Coexistence with the environment
I saw many projects in this year's program that are rooted in AI, IoT, biotech, or other advanced science and technology. Without a doubt, the impact of these developments may transform industries and everyday life. But precisely because they are so transformative, they should drive more efforts to solve local or global issues accounting for social values over the long term, instead of ending up in short-term innovation for immediate economic value. I believe good design holds the power to channel good innovation into making coexistence with the global environment a reality.
Urban and social infrastructure
As suburban cities in Japan shrink, inevitably, less will be invested in public infrastructure. Cities must ensure that these assets last, and core functions must be maintained while updating the design to suit the times and local needs.
Community and locality
I myself see design as a problem-solving process. What kinds of design will future generations need? I sense that it will provide answers and ideas for determining how to approach our missions in society. And what are our social missions? From a rural perspective, the greatest causes for concern are issues intertwined with improvements to social infrastructure and the local economy, issues that are rooted in depopulation and lower revenue. Cities are probably most concerned About disasters.
Medicine and health
As these fields are also enhanced by robotics, AI, and other transformative technologies in the future, medical and health products may become even more diverse, and we will need to venture further in defining good design in the context of medical innovation.
Safety and security
From the perspective of safety and security, quite a few entries this year help us prepare for emergencies. There is less to fear from earthquakes, typhoons, or other disasters if we are prepared, and being ready for adversity certainly saves many lives. When nature is our adversary, we can never be totally safe from harm, but it is reasonable that some entries give us a measure of reassurance. Still, everyday safety involves more than disaster preparedness. Just as product liability laws have inspired trust, we propose that design contribute to an assurance of safety, so that people can feel reassurance from the safety of sound design.
Education and learning
Redesigning education remains a current need. In last year's program, notable entries introduced new approaches to learning from the three perspectives of what, how, and where we study. These entries suggested shifts in education and learning. This year, we saw design that pushes forward, creates, and expands along these lines. How will we teach when the power of good design is pervasive in education and learning? It is tantalizing to imagine the chemical reaction this will spark.
Business models and ways of working
It is interesting to imagine what proportion of people worked in primary industries a century ago. That proportion is probably smaller today, worldwide, but not because these people have lost their job - in fact, new jobs have been created. What will happen, though, if technological advances eliminate more and more jobs? Some people predict that jobs will be lost to robots, and others believe we will continue to create new jobs. Although I, too, expect to see new jobs, entries in this year's award program suggest that the nature of these jobs is changing significantly.
Culture and ways of life
What designers can present as everyday aesthetics represent various attitudes: coexistence of diverse, independent individuals; open-mindedness; open, constructive discussion; transparency of process; equal opportunity; and tolerance and respect. In other words, today's designers are responsible for tracing out democratic ideals beautifully in the fabric of everyday life. From this perspective, substantially more entries in this year's program deserve recognition.
Technology and Information
In my field of cybernetics, within information studies, we consider evaluation and design of feedback loops among system elements. Applying this perspective to the products and services in society leads us to consider the aspect of how much positive feedback they provide in response to user behavior. Thus, to discuss the focal issue of technology and information, I will evaluate not only the design and technology behind products and services but also these cybernetic loops established by products.