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Opening address

Hiroo Imura
President, Kyoto University

Good morning Dr. de Souza, Dr. Araki, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of Kyoto University, one of the organizers of this symposium, I have the pleasure of extending a cordial welcome to all participants to the second International Symposium on the Frontiers of Science and Technology. I have to express my sincere thanks especially to all speakers who have come a long distance. As already mentioned by Dr. de Souza, the first symposium, which was held in Tokyo last year, was focused on chaos in science. This year the subject is information. In the field of science and technology, very rapid accumulation of information is causing a variety of problems. The increase of numbers of scientific papers is not linear but exponential, and this has caused increases of review journals, computerized retrieval systems, and many other sophisticated methods. The progress of information transfer, however, has caused disparities not only among countries as already discussed by Dr. de Souza, but also among individuals.

Let me discuss this a little more by taking the human body as a metaphor. The human body consists of about 60 trillion cells, 10,000 times greater than the population in the world. It is a society of cells. Among such an enormous number of cells, there are many ways of information transmission. The nervous system is like a telephone or telefax and sends information through the nerve fibres. It is a very rapid and efficient way of information transmission but wires and special instruments are required. In order to facilitate information transmission by this system, you have to increase wires and instruments. Another important system is the endocrinal system. The endocrinal system distributes information as chemical substances, that is, hormones, by the bloodstream throughout the body. The cells that have a special antenna, or receptor, can catch specific information. There are several ways to facilitate information transfer in this system. One is to increase the number of receptors; another way is to change information in such a way as to enable it to be caught by different receptors. These functions and modifications are analogous to the development of information techniques to be discussed in this symposium.

In the past centuries, liberty, equality, and humanity have been considered most important for humankind. In such a global age as today, we must add one more important thing: communication. In the field of science and technology, communication of new information is, needless to say, quite important. In this symposium, the importance of transmission for science, economy, humankind, new technologies for information retrieval and transfer, and the need for international cooperation, especially for the developing countries, will be discussed.

We have to improve the nature of information and to increase the receptive mechanisms in order to achieve our goals. I hope that this three-day symposium will be a great success. Thank you very much.

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