Will technology save humanity? Researchers gather at global summit on bleeding-edge tech for good

Brilliant minds have shaped the course of human history. From the astrolabe to the internet, innovation has been a defining trait of our species. Now, with the Western world on the edge of what, at times, seems like an apocalyptic future, can we harness humanity’s super intelligence and create tech that benefits the species as a whole rather than destroying the planet to line the pockets of a few?

“Some huge, big, fundamental change has to happen to sustain our long-term development of ideas and, basically, for the sake of human beings,” said Kazuhiro Gomi (pictured), president and chief executive officer of NTT Research Inc.

Gomi spoke with Jeff Frick, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. They discussed basic research, NTT’s operational goals, and the Upgrade 2020 summit. (* Disclosure below.)

Basic research focuses on fundamental core technology that drives change

Following in the footsteps of the venerable AT&T’s Bell Labs, NTT Research is a subsidiary of Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT). But the company’s mission extends beyond industry to promoting positive change for humanity through technological innovation.

NTT opened a lab in Silicon Valley in 2019 to facilitate global collaboration within the basic research community. The Upgrade 2020 Global Research Summit is a way for the company to demonstrate what they are doing and invite the world to add to the conversation.

“For us, basic research means that we don’t necessarily have a product roadmap or commercialization roadmap. We just want to look at the fundamental core technology of all things,” Gomi said.

NTT’s research focuses on quantum computing; cryptography and information security; and medical and health informatics. The Summit’s agenda reflects these areas, with day one devoted to an overview, followed by three days of deep dives into physics and informatics, cryptography and information security, and medical and health informatics.

“Day one will be a great day to understand more holistically what we are doing,” Gomi said. “However, given the type of research topic that we are tackling, we need the deep dive conversations, very specific to each topic by the specialist and the experts in each field.”

Day two kicks off with a session titled “Coherent Nonlinear Dynamics and Combinatorial Optimization,” given by Stanford professor of applied physics Hideo Mabuchi. Other equally in-depth discussions include research into biological digital twins. “Basically, the computer system can simulate or emulate your own body, not just a generic human body,” Gomi explained. “If you get that precise simulation of your body, you can do a lot of things.”

The ability to predict future illnesses or physical problems as a body ages is one scenario. Another is testing medicines using a medical doppelgänger to eliminate human risk. The technology is in its infancy, but the potential is definitely ground-breaking.

“It’s going to be a pretty long journey,” Gomi stated. “We’re starting from trying to get the digital twin for the cardiovascular system, so basically to create your own heart.”

An open invitation to experience cutting-edge research

Collaboration with professors and researchers at prestigious universities is essential for the mission of NTT, and the summit has a roster of high-level academics from MIT, UCLA, Caltech and Stanford, as well as Leicester University in the U.K. and Keio University in Tokyo.

“Listening in to those sessions you will learn what’s going on from the NTT [researcher]’s mind or entity researcher’s mind to tackle each problem. But at the same time you will get to hear top-level researchers and professors in each field,” Gomi said, who offered an open invitation for anyone to join the summit and reach out and continue the conversation by contacting him and the other researchers at NTT.

“I believe this is going to be a unique [summit] to understand what’s it’s like in the research fields of quantum computing, encryptions, and then medical informatics of the world,” Gomi concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. Neither NTT Research, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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