2015 sees Yokohama lined up to host an IETF meeting, with W3C TPAC also to take place in Sapporo in the week before IETF Yokohama. The decision to hold these two meetings in Japan in consecutive weeks is aimed at spurring strategic cooperation and collaborative efforts between the IETF and W3C. 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, a new IT strategy for Japan has been formulated with a view to the staging of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, and it is crucial that we push ahead with efforts to make social infrastructure smarter with the Internet as cornerstone. With a view to 2015 and 2020, expectations are on WIDE Project to contribute to the global community based on the results of its various research & development activities, and we must be grateful for the opportunities we have been granted.
The theme at this year’s WIDE camp, held primarily for board members every summer, was “WIDE Project’s Next Move”. We took stock of our research activities so far, discussed the future direction of research & development, and decided to embark on the design of the next phase of the Internet (we named this WIDE DESiGN). In line with the “rough consensus and running code” philosophy as employed in research & development of Internet technologies to date, we intend to pursue research & development while also laying out the broad system architecture and component technologies and designing and implementing practically feasible systems. WIDE DESiGN is by no means premised on TCP/IP but is aimed at redesigning the environment for wide-area distributed computing with a global span. It also has a crucial role to play in the completion of our 2012 theme of big data.
The WIDE DESiGN system must be a global computer network that encompasses the entire globe, acting as a sensor network that engenders the sustainability of the earth itself and the sustainability and potential for advancement of the endeavors of the human race that inhabits it. Perhaps the first humans ever to experience quintessential “globalness” were astronauts. Viewed from space, the earth bears no national boundaries. It looms simply as a huge and majestic globe. Curiously, the blue, white and green hues of nature are visible by day, whereas the earth by night is a black surface wreathed in streams of light. Those streams of light are the illumination of railways, roads and buildings. In other words, the nighttime earth reveals artificial structures; in short, civilization. The earth is a globe, bounded by limits, on which nature coexists with artificial structures and civilization, as light and dark halves of the whole. Yet from an aircraft, the surface of the earth appears as a flat, boundless expanse. Indeed, one may feel as though it stretches out as a limitless space. But viewed from a spacecraft or satellite, the earth is revealed to be a limited and bounded globe. That is, the world seen from an aircraft appears as an open, limitless space, whereas the earth from a satellite or spacecraft appears as a limited space in which nature and artificial structures / civilization form an ecosystem. Cyberspace may be perceived as a boundless global space, a boundless space able to expand without limit. Meanwhile, the real-world space encapsulating that expanding cyberspace is not a limitless but a limited space. Thus in this physically limited, not unlimited, real-world space, we must build and operate a single, shared commons space (i.e., shared platform formed based on the Internet and the Internet by Design) while also maintaining a structure for ongoing, sustainable innovation. What sort of interplay will we see between seemingly freely expandable cyberspace and real-world space, with its limits on physical size, as societal and industrial foundations of the 21st century take shape? This picture is likely to be completed by the next generation. Indeed, this is 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.