Fellows Outline Hopes and Expectations for Network




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Jun 08, 2020
by Oscar Tollast
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Fellows Outline Hopes and Expectations for Network

Inaugural Fellows of Japan-India Transformative Technology Network help craft their program Photo by Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash

Change-makers and leaders working in human and planetary health have outlined their hopes for the Japan-India Transformative Technology Network as the program's partners review its strategy in the wake of COVID-19.

The Network will connect leaders from two of Asia's largest democracies to develop ideas for artificial intelligence (AI) innovations and applications across three interconnected fields: health systems; accessibility, mobility and inclusion; and living and liveable cities.

A select core of Fellows was set to take part in an in-person workshop, Harnessing the Power of AI for Human and Planetary Health, in Magome, Japan, in March 2020 as the entry point to the program. Instead, the program, held in partnership with the Nippon Foundation, will begin online with a host of activities designed to initiate personal relationships between Fellows, introduce them to the challenges they are addressing in their daily work, and to encourage a creative exchange of solutions.

In advance of these activities, Salzburg Global Seminar asked Fellows what they hoped the Network would help them achieve and what they would like to learn. Fellows spoke of their desire to network with practitioners and researchers working in AI, to make a more significant impact in their work, and to forge new partnerships. Several Fellows also spoke directly to the directions they wish to follow in leveraging the resources provided by the Network.

Given the program's focus on human and planetary health, it comes as no surprise that several of its Fellows find themselves at the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of these Fellows hope that the Network will help them to build new visions for post-COVID-19 health systems in India and Japan. One Fellow felt the Network could provide a "unique opportunity" to reassess the cracks in both countries' health systems and address deep-seated inequalities.

Another Fellow expressed a drive to explore the power of AI in social media, online community discussion, and online chatbots for support. Others are keen to see how AI can address challenges in infrastructure and social sectors at all levels and help strengthen urban mobility. As the author William Gibson said, "The future is already here – it's just not very evenly distributed." The Network created by this inaugural cohort of Fellows can provide a space for change-makers from different fields to "unravel" urban challenges, as one Fellow suggested, across diverse city-scales.

In the coming months, Fellows will be encouraged to share some of these ideas and seek advice from each other. Salzburg Global will ask Fellows to contribute to a series of blog posts and interviews focused on the Fellows themselves and their work. This content, shared within the Network, will introduce the Fellows' personalities, aims, and ideas, as well as the challenges they hope the Network can help them address.

These contributions will also serve as the basis for several follow-up topical discussions to be held online over the remainder of 2020. These online meet-ups will examine how societies can maximize the potential gains from AI for people and the environment, and identify common ground for collaboration in these fields.

As the survey made clear, the opportunity to network with experts from different fields is something that appeals to many of the Network's inaugural Fellows. However, while Fellows want to learn more about new technologies in Japan and India, they also want to be more informed about each country's cultural practices, shared values, and beliefs as they seek to build stronger connections and transform systems.

The Japan-India Transformative Technology Network will contain a diverse, cross-sectoral mix of perspectives from different professions working within research and development, implementation and commercialization, and expansion and scaling-up. Salzburg Global expects this diverse mix to contribute to a rich exchange across sectors and disciplines, but in response to Fellows' broader interest in exchange at the personal and societal level, Fellows will also be given the opportunity to introduce their cultures and daily lives to each another through recommendations for their favorite books,  movies,  etc., offers of virtual tours of places dear to them, and other such activities.

As the Network develops, Salzburg Global and the Nippon Foundation look forward to the personal and professional connections it will nurture through these early online activities, and we hope that they will set the stage to make its future activities all the more valuable.

The Japan-India Transformative Technology Network, held in partnership with the Nippon Foundation, aims to accelerate technological innovation for human and planetary health in line with the Sustainable Development Goals by building a dynamic cross-sector network of outstanding change-makers in Asia’s two largest democracies, India and Japan. To receive more updates about this program, sign up for the Leadership Exchange Asia Program newsletter here.