20th Annual Meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum
On October 1, 2023, Prime Minister Kishida attended the 20th Annual Meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum held in Kyoto.
Prime Minister Kishida delivered the following address at the opening ceremony.
“Thank you for inviting me to this event. I hear that the STS forum, founded in 2004 by former Minister of Finance OMI Koji, is marking its 20th anniversary this year. I am delighted to be able to join Chairman Komiyama and all of you in attendance here today in this celebratory milestone year.
During the two decades since the founding of this forum, science and technology have brought significant advances to society and our lifestyles. I have high hopes that the “popularization of science and technology,” in other words, the development of “a society where everyone can benefit from science and technology” will gain further prevalence in the coming decades.
For example, “generative AI” is said to potentially bring revolutionary progress to society, especially in the fields of industry, healthcare and education. I myself have engaged in dialogues with developers and young researchers working with generative AI and have participated in a symposium at the University of Tokyo. During my summer break, I also took part in a generative AI training course, where Japan’s prominent AI researcher, Professor MATSUO Yutaka of the University of Tokyo, provided a hands-on tutorial on programming for the development of “large language models”.
Such practical experience has given me a renewed appreciation of the potential of generative AI. I anticipate that the technology will further “popularize science and technology” in the coming era, making our lives even more convenient. Meanwhile, concerns have been raised about issues such as disinformation, privacy and copyright protection, which we need to address.
To this end, at the G7 Hiroshima Summit I chaired this past May, we agreed on a vision of “trustworthy AI”, and I proposed the launch of the “Hiroshima AI Process”. With a view to ensuring “trustworthy AI”, Japan is now taking the lead in international rule-making on governance and transparency. Here at the STS forum, I hope to hear the views of experts from various nations, including non-G7 members, regarding issues surrounding generative AI.
It is not only generative AI but all areas of science and technology that have their “lights” and “shadows,” or positive and negative sides. I perceive this to be a key theme that has been discussed since the foundation of the STS forum. It is imperative that we keep driving innovation forward, while earnestly addressing the negative impacts on society and ethical issues, to promote the appropriate use of science and technology for a sustainable future.
International cooperation and human resources development as well as science diplomacy are indispensable in resolving such global challenges as climate change and energy problems.
To this end, we agreed at the G7 Hiroshima Summit to support the development of advanced technologies, research infrastructures and highly-skilled human resource networks, and to promote international talent mobility and circulation. Now, more than ever, we must push forward the “global brain circulation” that has been stalled by the COVID-19 crisis. I firmly believe that Japan will take the lead in this endeavor.
The STS forum is an invaluable platform in that it gathers together opinion leaders from around the world to engage in discussions and networking from a shared standpoint. I hope to see large numbers of scientists, corporate executives and policymakers participate in the forum and expand the circle of collaboration in science and technology around the world.
In celebrating the 20th anniversary of the forum, I would like to re-emphasize the significance of the peaceful uses of science and technology and relevant international collaborations. At the G7 Hiroshima Summit, world leaders visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and exchanged words with an atomic bomb survivor, reaffirming the value of life and the preciousness of peace. The Kyoto International Conference Center, the venue of this forum, is where Dr. YUKAWA Hideki, Japan’s first Nobel Prize laureate, hosted the country’s first Pugwash Symposium, at which scientists gathered from around the world to discuss “World without nuclear weapons” in 1975. This Conference Center was also where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, serving as the starting point for concerted worldwide efforts to tackle the global issue of climate change.
I am delighted that discussions for the future of science and technology will be held at this venue, where such historic events took place in pursuit of peace and the resolution of global issues.
We must, while inheriting the legacy of the past 20 years, consider how we will move forward into the future. I am convinced that science and technology hold one of the keys to realizing the ideal future we envision.
In closing, I would like to pose you these questions: “What kind of future do you wish to create?” and “How should we develop and use science and technology to create such a future?”
We look forward to your lively discussions. Thank you for your participation and attention.”