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Foreword

Hiroshi Esaki, Ph.D.
Director
 

 

The two weeks spanning the last week of October and first week of November 2015 saw the 94th IETF meeting (in Yokohama) and W3C TPAC (in Sapporo) held back-to-back in Japan, while international conferences including ACM IMC 2015 and IEEE CSCN also took place. The staging of these two events in Japan was designed to spur strategic partnership and collaborative efforts between the IETF and W3C, and the events ended in success. While these meetings were underway, ISOC, ISOC-JP, IGCJ (Internet Governance Conference Japan), and WIDE Project also jointly held an executive briefing on Collaborative Security and Collaborative Internet Governance, enabling participants to share information and ascertain the direction of internet governance and security based in particular on the basic principles of the internet. The IETF meeting welcomed around 1,400 attendees from a record 52 countries. This third iteration of the event in Japan, following 2002 (Yokohama) and 2009 (Hiroshima), was made possible by the support of many sponsors, predominantly WIDE Project member organizations, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all of the participating WIDE Project member organizations that provided support.

The IoT (Internet of Things) is moving toward a web interface utilizing Internet infrastructure to facilitate access to all “things”, and the increasing sophistication and granularity of digital media also reflects ongoing research & development and technology standardization with a central focus on web interfaces. Further, with a view to the staging of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, a new IT strategy for Japan has been formulated and the IoT Acceleration Consortium, chaired by WIDE Project founder Jun Murai, has been formed, reflecting the crucial need to push ahead with efforts to make social infrastructure more sophisticated and smarter with the internet as cornerstone. With a view to 2020, expectations are on WIDE Project to contribute to the global community based on the results of its various research & development activities. With the internet broadly permeating society and the quality of commercial internet services rising, the need for and importance of internet-related research & development is at times downplayed, but for the reasons below, I believe that we must we continuously upgrade and expand our internet testbeds for the purpose of ongoing global education and research. One reason is that because the internet has become widespread and a basis for industrial and social activity, governments seek to tighten their control over the internet for national security considerations/reasons. Other reasons include the need to provide an environment that facilitates free interaction between human resources able to work together globally, and the notion that the knowledge and experience to independently design, implement, build, and operate global systems is vital to continuous innovation. Against this backdrop, and with the support of many WIDE member organizations, including Huawei Technologies and Cisco Systems, and global partner organizations, WIDE Project was able to convert the WIDE Internet backbone to 100G and connect it with research and education testbeds in North America. I believe we must embark on a new phase of research & development using the WIDE Internet.

The personal computers of around 2000 morphed into the smartphones of around 2010, and recently this level of computing power even fits into the size of a USB memory stick. Moreover, the basic software needed to drive these devices has rapidly shifted toward open software, enabling anyone to create fascinating, compact, feature-rich devices on their own. The business story is that these compact, feature-rich devices are all connected to the internet via the latest wireless communications technology, sending huge amounts of diverse data to severs in internet-based data centers, on which vast numbers of servers run big data analysis, thus leading to the creation of myriad services and giving rise to smart infrastructure whereby aspects of real-world spaces are managed and controlled. Thinking back, we did indeed consider such a vision at WIDE Project in the late 1990s when discussing IPv6, and we have since pursued practical research & development projects including the Internet CAR and smart buildings. The biggest concern back then was that various TCP/IP-based systems could be introduced and deployed in areas outside of the internet industry, forming standalone silos and individual networks operated in isolation with no interconnectivity. Although the current IoT may use TCP/IP, which can provide global connectivity, the systems being built are vertical lock-on systems that hold users captive and intentionally form walled gardens, leading toward a highly fragmented landscape. Very frequently, the application-layer identifiers used in these walled gardens make no considerations for global applicability nor interconnectivity with other walled gardens. The WoT (Web of Things) advocated by W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) is an effort to avoid this sort of web fragmentation, and various organizations have voiced concern over internet fragmentation, but I feel we are at a critical juncture that will determine whether we can maintain the internet's important position as the globe's sole shared platform. Preventing fragmentation really should be regarded a necessary condition for the success of the IoT.

The theme at this year's study camp, which we hold every summer primarily for board members, was "Artificial Intelligence / Deep Learning and the Internet". Discussions at the camp reaffirmed the necessity and importance of a fusion between cyberspace and real-world space, scalable computing environments on a global scale, and additionally, innovative computing platforms to make this a reality. They also facilitated awareness and recognition of the fields of artificial intelligence and deep learning as well as research & development related to the merging/integration of the internet so far.

Thus, in this physically limited, not unlimited, real-world space, we must build and operate a single, shared commons space (i.e., a shared platform that is formed based on the Internet and the Internet by Design) while also maintaining a structure for ongoing, sustainable innovation. This entails nothing short of the design and construction of a global, 21st century ecosystem made up of cybersystems and artificial structures coexisting with nature.

WIDE Project is operated as a consortium of academic and industrial partners. By offering an environment geared toward practical and applied research—which differs from the objective-based research common to business organizations and fundamental research found in academic circles, where creativity and originality are sought—WIDE Project has been able to achieve results that go beyond those of conventional research institutions. This is a research model unique to WIDE and as a defining element, and it is essential that we further develop and maintain this approach to our research.

In closing, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to all those individuals and organizations that have supported the activities of WIDE Project and to ask for your continued participation, cooperation, guidance and encouragement. With your help and cooperation, I am excited at the prospect of having this opportunity to work together with you all to discover new fields and strive towards the realization of safer, more secure social infrastructure.

Hiroshi Esaki
March 2016

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WIDE Award