Dialogue series Vol.4

# A background in informatics and mathematics is the foundation of all science.

## Abstract things like 'value' and 'quality' can be demonstrated because of the use of data.

As a humanities person, I am interested in how the qualitative aspects of a system, such as the system is functioning, are captured in terms of mathematics. When you look at the interaction between a child and a robot, as you mentioned earlier, when you look at the interaction between a child and a robot, how do you view the qualitative aspects, such as 'this is bad for the child' or 'this is a good interaction', in terms of mathematics?

It may indeed be difficult to imagine. For example, we have conducted experiments in the past where we explained to children that the robot was moving independently, but actually had a kindergarten teacher operate it remotely. We thought that a kindergarten teacher would be able to interact with the child in a friendly way. However, as the robot looks like a robot and does not match the familiar teacher, the children naturally behaved differently. Therefore, we analysed the three relationships by quantifying the number of times the robot talked with the child, the child's personality, which was answered in a questionnaire beforehand, and the subjective opinion of the mother who was observing the situation. The results showed that children with shy temperaments did not get on well with children who had a lot of conversation from the start, while children with high sociability got on well with children who had a lot of conversation from the start. This is just one example, but it develops into a qualitative discussion by quantifying the factors that are considered relevant.

In the case of Wikipedia, I find it interesting that there is qualitative diversity, although this is not well captured by either the articles or the editors. For example, an article written by a large number of people could be considered an important article, but it could also simply be controversial or popular at the time. We want to know that the article is well edited and has good content as 'goodness', but to do this we need to know what kind of article it was written by, who wrote it, and other indicators that are determined by the nature of the article and the editor in relation to each other. The interesting thing about this kind of research is that it is possible to cut out the system and advance the discussion through the power of mathematics.

It is very interesting. In fact, there is a similar story in the connection between economics and mathematics. There were early mathematical economists in the 19th century who wanted to bring the mathematical structures and methods of statistical physics, such as thermodynamics and fluid dynamics, to economics. Market mechanisms, i.e. price movements and human behaviour, involve qualitative issues about people and society, and mathematical analysis has in part progressed to the present day with the aid of physical methods. Today, with the development of computer technology and theories of machine learning, many things are being quantified and flooding society, and problems related to society and people are becoming even more complex. How we should evaluate and accept such things is an issue in various academic fields, and I think we are called upon to carry out exactly such research one by one.

## Technology, society and culture. Towards a frontier of coexistence or better ways of interaction.

What about your future goals?

In my current research in PRESTO, I am concentrating on Wikipedia, but as a next step, I am interested in the universal aspects and the individual nature of systems such as Wikipedia. I hope to be able to discuss the diversity and universality of the cultures and societies to which the participants belong in the background, although the comparison will be made through Wikipedia.

I know from experience that the Japanese and English versions of Wikipedia are very different. Is the Japanese version more octopus-like when it comes to cultural and social structures?

It has turned out to be not so surprising. Even though there are some characteristics, such as a large number of anime-related articles, as with the English version, you have a variety of people writing a variety of articles.

Communication and interaction are the pillars of my research, but in fact I myself am somewhat poor at communication. That is why, on the contrary, I am doing my current research because it leads to an inquisitive mind that wants to know more. This is because it is easy to notice problems that could be solved in this way. The same applies to research applied to childcare, with the aim of gaining knowledge for creating a good childcare environment and social implementation such as childcare support systems.

Are people involved in childcare and welfare more interested in robots?

To put it differently, there are two types of people: those who are interested in new fields and technologies and want to improve the quality of childcare by introducing robots, and those who reject robots because childcare and welfare should still be done by people. However, there are also those who reject the technology without knowing the actual situation. For example, some people are positive about the introduction of the technology when shown a video of a childcare support robot and a child playing together via video chat with the grandparents.

When it comes to social implementation of robots, ethical issues will also become a major concern. The Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences, which the University plans to establish, intends to focus on the field of information ethics at the same time as developing computer science, information theory, mathematical theory and statistics. In the past, science and technology could distinguish between the use of technology and its impact on society. Today, however, AI is definitely in a situation where it cannot be left unused, while we still do not know how to assess the interaction of AI with the complex existing society. Information ethics is a new field of education and research, so if the whole university takes it seriously, it has the potential to become a frontier, and I believe it has great social significance.

## A focus on 'information mathematics', not just 'mathematics'. High expectations for basic education that takes time.

As a researcher involved in information mathematics, what are your expectations of the Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences established by the University?

AI and machine learning are now really close to us, and as Dr Nakano said, there is no option but not to use them, and I think that information mathematics will become more and more pervasive in our daily lives. In that case, while it is important to learn the cutting-edge of AI and machine learning, I think it is also increasingly important to cultivate the basic mathematical skills to be able to stand at the entrance of solutions by oneself. I hope that the newly established Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences will be a place where students can learn the fundamentals of mathematics, because it makes a big difference whether they have these skills or not.

I agree with Dr Kogushi. With regard to the importance of fundamentals, I suddenly remembered my school days. I entered the Department of Intelligent Mechanical Engineering because I wanted to make robots to assist people, but I realised that I needed information and even considered changing departments within a year. However, because the university taught me well about the basics, I was able to engage in research in the information field without changing departments after all. Including this experience, I think it is important to have a good mathematical foundation, no matter what path you take.

Just as English enables us to communicate with people from other countries, so being able to speak the 'language of mathematics' helps us to develop our ability to read and understand the information society.

Speaking from a physics perspective, I would like to emphasise that you need physics as well as mathematics. Even if you have the data in hand, to understand the results of the analysis, you need a background in physics to describe the basic structure of how things work, and mathematics does not give you that. In that sense, I liked the framework of mathematics, where you can learn both mathematics and physics.

What do you feel as a woman about researching and learning in the field of informatics and mathematics?

I have never been aware of any differences in terms of competence with regard to research. In particular, in my case, childcare and research were like a double job, and I seemed to release the stress of one with the other, and I enjoy the work of research.

In research, I have never felt that there is a unique female perspective or a unique male perspective either. Individual differences are more significant. It may be that there are currently more men in the field of mathematics, but I would like them to challenge themselves undaunted.

Meiji Gakuin University has a high proportion of women, so you can make connections with women in other student life, such as in clubs, and there seems to be no need to be conscious of being male or female.

I would like my interests to be more important than my gender and security. I believe that my own experience of being a minority as a student has since become a strength.

Thank you very much. At the same time as the Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences, the University intends to establish the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Area of Information Science and to strongly promote new research frontiers, especially the ethical aspects, through collaboration with existing faculties. Just as the two of you are boldly taking up the challenge of a new field, our university will strive to develop the Faculty of Information Mathematics and Science as a catalyst.

## List of articles in dialogue

Dialogue Series Vol.2 A future is coming that not even Einstein could have imagined. ― The world of "information" changed by quantum mechanics. From there, the Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences learns from a future perspective.

Dialogue Series Vol.3 Updating the humanities and social sciences with the power of information mathematics! ― Information mathematics is a communication and hub that connects disciplines and people.

Dialogue Series Vol.4 A background in informatics and mathematics is the foundation of all science. ― Great Expectations for Integration with Diverse Fields