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Home > Topics > Initiative - "Civic Tech" for a better and brighter future, an R&D project taking on societal issues with information technology

Initiative - "Civic Tech" for a better and brighter future, an R&D project taking on societal issues with information technology

Category:News|Publishing : July 8, 2024


Societal progress largely depends on advancements in science and technology, yet the advancements alone is not enough. What truly matters is how these advancements transform society and enrich people's lives. Technologies like AI have the potential to fundamentally reshape our society, but their impact can be either beneficial or detrimental, depending on how they are used. Therefore, it is essential that engineers who develop cutting-edge technologies have a vision for using them to useful for society and create a better and brighter future.

In this article, we will introduce how disciplines within the field of Engineering, particularly in the field of information technology, can contribute to society. Have you ever heard of the term "Civic Tech"? This term is composed of the words "civic" and "technology," referring to activities that leverage information technology to solve problems in society. At present, many people all over the world are pursuing activities with the use of web technologies and AI to create a better society. Civic Tech activities provide engineers with opportunities to grow as specialists and win prizes in competitions while tackling societal problems by using information technology.

The laboratory headed by Professor SHIRAMATSU Shun (NITech Computer Science Group) is pursuing an R&D project to develop systems to support Civic Tech-like co-creative activities. One focus in this project is systems that support discussions and consensus building on social issues using AI technology known as "Large Language Models". The figure illustrates one such system. Professor SHIRAMATSU's team engages in such research while participating in activities led by Code for Nagoya, a Nagoya-based Civic Tech organization. The SHIRAMATSU Laboratory is also involved in the management of the Special Interest Group on Crowd Co-creative Intelligence (SIG-CCI) of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence. The SIG-CCI aims to solve societal issues by using AI technology in collaboration with citizens, as in Civic Tech activities. Various initiatives are already underway wherein citizens and researchers collaborate to create new value using AI.

Professor SHIRAMATSU says: "In addition to Code for Nagoya our lab works with, there are over 80 Civic Tech organizations active in Japan. Many groups engage in similar activities all over the world, but I think Japan is unique in that Civic Tech activities are so widespread and deeply rooted in respective local communities. If you are interested in Civic Tech, search with the key words "Code for XXX," replacing XXX with the name of your city or region, to find local groups near you."

website of the SHIRAMATSU Laboratory 白松研究室 (nitech.ac.jp)


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