|[Meeting Summary] The 4th Forum on Convergence|
The 4th Forum on Convergence
The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) and the Korea Institute of Science & Technology Information (KISTI) jointly held the 4th Forum on Convergence at the KISTI auditorium to discuss big data, its social impact, and the role of convergence in the 4th industrial revolution. Besides the chairpersons of the National Research Council of Science & Technology (NST) and of the National Research Council for Economics, Humanities and Social Sciences (NRC), there were about 100 participants, including most of the heads of the state-funded research institutes affiliated to NST and NRC.
In their welcoming remarks, the chairpersons of the two research councils pointed out the presence of both fears and hopes in our society concerning the fourth industrial revolution, and emphasized the synergy between the two fields of study each council represents as a strategy to respond to the digital revolution. They encouraged deeper cooperation among researchers from both councils.
As the first presenter, Hanmin Jung, chief researcher of KISTI, showed how technology breakthroughs are fundamentally altering the way we work, live, and relate to one another. He then likened the digital revolution to a double-edged sword; it gives hope to many for a better quality of life, but despair to some others with gloomy labor market prospects. According to Jung, artificial intelligence, which feeds on data, will increasingly substitute data-related labor. However, he also stressed that the fact that there are now more than 12 million mobile developers worldwide is an evidence that the fourth industrial revolution will create opportunities and new jobs. He ended his presentation urging more investment in initiatives such as "AI Sensor Open Data Platform" that connects individuals, developers, businesses, and government through a hyper-connection sensor network, which he regarded as a model for our response to the fourth industrial revolution.
Mee Aeh Oh, associate research fellow of KIHASA, agreed with Jung on the fourth industrial revolution having both favorable and unfavorable consequences. She observed that despite the envisaged positive changes, the fourth industrial revolution poses various social risks, including greater inequality. She suggested that given the technological advancements we have, it has become possible to have a paradigm shift in our approach to social problems, for example, a paradigm shift in social service delivery. Instead of reactively responding to social needs, she claimed, we can proactively reach out to those in need and preemptively deal with their problems, using big data and artificial intelligence.
After Oh's presentation, Byung Won Park, research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, introduced "the Sejong Future Strategies Study Forum" as a good example of converging efforts between NST and NRC. This forum has researchers and scholars from diverse backgrounds as its members. They have been meeting since 2013, seven times in this year alone, and each time on a different social and policy issue. At the end of every meeting, they produce a summary diagram that depicts the essence of a particular issue from diverse points of view in an integrated manner. Park said they are currently working on further developing this meeting to produce more concrete results and spreading "the convergence movement" throughout the country.
Many ideas and suggestions were shared during the panel discussion. Most discussants underscored the importance of cooperation between NST and NRC. Also, data access across different fields of study has been pointed out as problematic. Hospitals keep plenty of useful data, but they simply do not or cannot share them with outside researchers. There are too many regulatory hurdles that block necessary data access. Furthermore, researchers in a particular field do not know where to find useful data outside their field. One panel discussant urged the Korean scientific community to develop a long-term perspective on technology rather than respond hastily to short-term demands at the expense of important opportunities for major developments.
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