Table Speech

Artificial Intelligence and Future Society

November 25, 2015

Mr. Shoichiro Iwata
President & CEO, ASKUL Corporation

 I have worked in the mail-order business from the early 1990s, starting with catalog mail shopping. I have also kept close watch on the development of the Internet from its early times.

 The Internet rapidly became common through the spread of search services. Thanks to the dramatic advancement in computer processing capacity and communication speed, the Internet has become an essential social infrastructure. The emergence of smartphones in 2007 further accelerated the integration of communication and computers and consequently, electric commerce (EC) grew rapidly throughout the world.
 I witnessed this explosive spread of EC in Beijing, China two weeks ago. A Chinese EC company Alibaba marked astounding daily sales of 1.7 trillion yen on November 11th that celebrates the world’s biggest online shopping event, the “Singles Day.” This 60% increase from last year’s figure runs contrary to the media coverage on economic slowdown in China. The country’s EC business attracts a massive number of consumers with its sales reaching 56 trillion yen, which well surpasses the retail store sales of 26 trillion yen. As many as 680 million smartphones are said to be sold in China and they have engulfed the massive Chinese market.

 As EC business develops, purchase quantity and the volume of digital information generated increase consequently. By 2020, data volume is estimated to increase tenfold to reach 44 trillion gigabytes. New systems are being developed that enable speedy data analysis of such enormous information clusters called the “Big Data”. EC companies have high-performance market radar and compile high-dimensional data on distribution with details on personal purchasing behavior. Internet businesses will surely come to play an even greater role in the coming age of “IoT (Internet of Things)” when almost everything in our daily life will be connected to the Internet.

 Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another growing topic of conversation lately. IBM developed a decision-making support system “Watson”. AI is capable of learning a wide variety of tasks independently to integrate and analyze an enormous amount of data and identify the optimal solution in an instant. We should watch carefully how such Cognitive Computing system assist human beings and contribute to societal development.

 As an ordinary citizen, I feel uncomfortable to live in a world where everything is connected to computers. Our personal information can be leaked, compiled, analyzed and categorized without knowing. The latest technology like IoT, Big Data and AI can make our life convenient only when it serves to “make us happy.” Business leaders living this revolutionary era must uphold ethical values based on profound insight and empathy for the others.

Improving Our Quality of Life through the Latest Dermatological Research and Cosmetics

November 25, 2015

Mr. Kazutoshi Kobayashi
President, KOSÉ Corporation

 To keep our skin beautiful and healthy with cosmetics makes our life more comfortable and fulfilling. Let me share with you today some measures taken to improve our QOL (quality of life) by utilizing the latest dermatological research results in skin care and characteristics of cosmetic products.

(1) Protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays with cosmetics
We all know how harmful UV rays can be and are recommended to protect ourselves from UV radiation to prevent skin cancer. UVA rays activate melanin pigment and cause tanning, while UVB rays lead us to sunburn. Studies prove UVA can also trigger wrinkling, sagging and aging of skin. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates how protective a cosmetic product is against UVB, while Protection Grade of UVA (PA) deals with UVA. Products with excellent UV protection rating are not good enough, unless they are water-resistant. Cosmetic companies should develop products that can be used for various purposes and situations, including swimming and playing sports.

(2) Preventing allergies through skin care
Let me touch upon how integrating medical care and cosmetics help improve our QOL. We have long collaborated with Keio University School of Medicine and assisted research on preventing allergies led by Professor Masayuki Amagai. It was previously believed that allergic diseases resulted from immune disorders. However, recent studies indicate a new mechanism that skin barrier disruption can cause sensitization to allergens and lead to systemic allergy diseases. This means we may be able to prevent various allergic symptoms by providing skin care to protect its barrier. Cosmetics are free from side effects, handy and safe, so they may be applicable to self-medication, with significant implications for preventive medicine.

(3) The latest research on aging
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells hold great promise in the field of regenerative medicine, proved by the Nobel Prize laureate Professor Yamanaka of Kyoto University. In collaboration with Professor Kaji of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University, our research lab has created iPS cells from dermal cells to analyze how to erase signs of aging within the cells through initialization, by taking dermal fibroblast from a single donor continuously over 30 years. We believe such gene-level research will provide a better understanding on the mechanism of aging.

We have been manufacturing cosmetics to make our life rich and colorful. But we also strive to improve our QOL by making full use of the latest dermatological research results and characteristics of cosmetic products