Recherche FFJ Research Statement Naoko Abe

Naoko Abe

Cross-cultural Studies (France and Japan) and Multidisciplinary Discussion on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

Tendencies and Research Prospects



Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly developing through a new learning system such as “Deep Learning model”, based on a neural network and learning data representation contrary to a task-specific algorithm. With this learning system and absorbing a large amount of information of the user, the environment, and the program data while AI is being used, AI learns autonomously, so that it can identify people, conversations, and visual information, and can help people make decisions. Deep Learning is a more powerful learning system than a traditional algorithm system and revolutionizes AI. Thus, our society is facing the rapid technological changes that could lead us to a dramatic social impact in the economic, societal, educational and ethical landscape.

The discussion on the development of AI and its social impact is increasingly held through a variety of topics involving researchers, engineers, experts, and policymakers at the worldwide level. For instance, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is one of the biggest professional and scientific associations in engineering and automation fields, served over 160 countries in the world, launched the “IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems” in April 2016.1 In the private sector, “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society” is founded in collaboration with Amazon, DeepMind-Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Apple in 2016 for the purpose of sharing and advancing AI research on an open platform.2 Furthermore, the OECD undertakes several initiatives such as publication of a report clarifying benefits of digitalization and recommendations in making new policies in 20163 and organization of an international conference on current AI researches, AI application, employment, security, privacy, transparency and ethics in 2017.4

There are also many governmental and academic initiatives regarding AI and social impact issues in both France and Japan. In January 2017, the French Ministry of Economy and Finance launched a platform called “France IA” in order to examine the current state of innovation and technologies, to forestall social impact and to strengthen job training and research in the future.5 The Office parlementaire d’évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques (OPECST) that is a parliamentary body responsible for assessing scientific and technological choices, published a report on benefits and risks of AI in March 2017.6 France Stratégie, which is a national institution attached to the Prime Minister’s office, reported on the economic and social impact of AI and its positive and negative effects in 2017.7 In the academic area, the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA) published a report synthesizing their research area and their challenge related to AI including over 160 project-teams.8 Furthermore, The Commission de réflexion sur l’Éthique de la Recherche en sciences et technologies du Numérique d’Allistene (CERNA), founded in 2012, deploys many activities focused on the ethical issues.9

In the same way as France, in Japan, we can observe governmental and academic initiatives. In April 2016, “Strategic Council for AI Technology” is launched under the direction of the Prime Minister in order to promote researches and societal implementation of AI.10  The Cabinet Office published a report on Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) raised by the use of AI and socio-economic topics such as the change of work style and employment in 2017.11  The Ministry of Economy also launched a discussion on AI issues for the purpose of identifying and overcoming society challenges by taking advantage of technological innovations.12  In the academic area, the “Ethical Committee of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI)” was established in December 2014.13  The think tank named “Acceptability Intelligence with Responsibility (AIR)” has been set up by young social science researchers for the purpose of promoting a multidisciplinary discussion on ethical and legal issues and the accountability of AI.14

Both in France and Japan, the governmental and scientific institutions are deploying their initiatives in order to identify societal benefits and potential risks caused by AI. It is true that we have a high expectation for AI as a factor of solving social problems (e.g. high unemployment rate in France, aging population in Japan) but also both countries consider a potential danger that could lead to a big societal change and affect human dignity.

Purpose of the Research

In this context, the importance of multidisciplinary discussion and research in the field of Intelligent Systems (AI and Robot) is increasingly recognized. My current research proposes three intersectional topics covering both engineering and social sciences interests as follows;

  1. International and national (France and Japan) initiatives with regard to the social impact of AI
  2. Trust and acceptability in Intelligent Systems
  3. Human-Machine Interaction

The first topic deals with current discussions and actions related to AI and social Impact issues. I aim to summarize the key information about governmental and academic initiatives regarding the AI and social impact issues at the international and national level underlying their positions or point of view. At the national level, I present particularly French and Japanese cases. The cross-cultural approach could raise a specific point of view on the issue in each society and permit us to understand their policy direction towards the technology.

Secondly, I propose to discuss the question of trust and acceptability in Intelligent Systems (e.g. autonomous car) that could be the key concept to analyze human behavior towards AI and robots. How do people trust automatic and intelligent machines? What research is to be conducted for developing “trustable” devices? What levels of intelligence and automation are necessary? Generally speaking, the trust and acceptability issues are investigated in social psychology, human factor, management, and innovation studies. In this section, I propose a socio-ethnological approach to explore the question of trust and acceptability.

Finally, I propose a research project focusing on the interaction between Intelligent Systems (computer and robot) and users with an original method. The Human-Machine interaction study is one of the most important investments towards the design and innovation of the future. The project aims to contribute to an improvement of the human-machine interaction providing a smooth and easy access for users by using the concept of movement and emotion. The project suggests to make a glossary of body movement respective to the emotions, which I call “Emotional Movement Dictionary”, by using Kinetography Laban which is a notation system for recording human movements, created by Rudolf Laban in 1928, developed in the context of dance. The goal of the Emotional Movement Dictionary is to help digital tool creators or roboticists design social and friendly technological objects.

These three topics are not separated but linked through a cross-cultural approach and as a multidisciplinary project. The first section providing overviews of tendencies in initiatives and orientations related to AI issues in France and Japan allows raising specific standpoints in each country. This cross-cultural approach is a useful way to understand the second section question “trust and acceptability in Intelligent System”. Each society has its own experiences with technology, and then it could affect how people trust AI or Robot and accept to use it. The outcome of the second question would be applicable to improve the Human-Machine Interaction. Whether people in a certain culture, a community or a society have a tendency to easily trust an intelligent machine or to agree to use it in their life, or not, this question permits to understand their relationship with a technological object and to improve its interaction.

Read the Discussion Paper


1. IEEE. “The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems,” 2016.4. 

2. Partnership on AI to benefit people and society.

3. OECD, DSTI/IND/STP/ICCP/CP(2016)3/REV1. “Seizing the benefits of digitalisation for growth and well-being,” 2016.5.23.

4. OECD. Conference on Artificial Intelligence "AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policies," 2017.10.26-27.

5. Le portail de l’Economie, des Finances, de l’Action et des Comptes publics. “Lancement de France I.A., stratégie nationale en intelligence artificielle,” 2017.1.23.

6. Claude De Ganay, Dominique Gillot. “Pour une intelligence artificielle maîtrisée, utile et démystifiée - Tome I, L'Office parlementaire d'évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques,” 2017.3.15.

7. Rand Hindi, Lionel Janin. “Anticipating the Economic and Social Impacts of Artificial Intelligence, National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence, report by working group 3.2,” Conseil National du Numérique, France Stratégie. 2017.3.

8. INRIA. “Artificial Intelligence, Current challenges and Inria’s engagement,” White paper. 2016.


10. Strategic Council for AI technology. “Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy,” 2017.3.17. 

11. Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. “Advisory Board on Artificial Intelligence and Human Society, Report on Artificial Intelligence and Human Society unofficial translation,” 2017 3.27.

12. Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. “Future Version 2030s”, 2017.5.30.

13. Ethical Committee of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence.

14. Acceptability Intelligence with Responsibility