REPORTAGE A TOKYO par Jérôme Bloch

Interview Tomotaka Takahashi: Mr Robot

On a Saturday morning of August, the Yasuda amphitheatre of Tokyo University is full. 30 kids are competing with their self-built robots in the final of an event which saw 15.000 participants. This is where we meet Tomotaka Takahashi for an interview.

 

What are the perspectives for the participants of this contest? What did you tell them during your presentation?

I want them to keep building robots, with their hands. To find problems and solve them. To create something they’re really passionate about, not for someone else or to help society. It is important to be honest with your own passion. I want these kids to be unique. Japanese citizens tend to follow people and the majority. This experience will help them afterwards. And regarding what they have created, people will find ways to use their work afterwards. I don’t care what kind of career they will choose, employees, entrepreneurs or anything else, but I want them to be creative.

 

 

“Design is critical:

it makes you want to communicate with the robot”

One child competing with his self-made robot

How important is design?

It is very important. This is what makes you want to communicate with the robot. And this is also a condition if you want to be emotionally attached to it.

 

What do we need robots for, in 2017?

Until now, robots were used as toys or for research. But now, they are becoming part of our daily lives. If you look at Alexa, the invention of Amazon, they went from “smartphone” to  “smart speaker”. I believe that the next step will be a communication robot and I predict that it will happen within 5 years.

 

What do you think about artificial intelligence?

I think that it is safer than a human decision. A lot of chaotic things happen in the world right now with politicians and hazardous human decisions. I’m quite positive about decisions taken by artificial intelligence as they are taken is a more calm and rational way. Unlike people like Elon Musk, I am not scared at all.

 

How do you analyze the decline of Japanese global leaders like Sharp, Toshiba or Panasonic in the business of screens and computers?

The reason is simple: when the product is improved enough, there is no longer a market. Screens and computers are too perfect. We need to focus on the next big innovation. I think that it will be in the robot segment.

 

Where do you see Japan and technology in 10 years?

Japanese people are very familiar with technology. The country is both an important market and a strategic place for development so I am very optimistic.

Mr Takahashi watching his cutest robot "Robi"

“When the product is improved enough,

there is no longer a market!”

The prize giving