Pioneer Tadao Saito, CTO Toyota Shares Leadership and Innovation Lessons
Professor Tadao Saito, CTO Toyota, is a global top pioneering leader, inventor, researcher and innovator shaping business, industry, research, education, government policies, international standards and society. This is the first extensive interview with Tadao and the first with the CTO of a global Fortune 8 company with revenues of 221.7 Billion. To put this in perspective, Microsoft ranks 120th, Apple 111th and Dell 124th in the global Fortune 500. Prior to joining Toyota, Tadao invented digital switching that laid the foundation for “all” digital communications including voice communications and the internet. You will read more about this in the interview plus valuable insights into leadership, technology trends and more. I first met Tadao at the G7 Summit of IT Societies in Vancouver August 2006 where I represented CIPS as president-elect. I had a chance to talk with Tadao at the World CIO Forum (WCF) in November 2011 where I participated as vice-chair international advisory board and chair of the EA panel session. After the WCF Tadao agreed to this exclusive interview to further explore his unique insights. Excerpts from this interview are appearing today with itWorld and CIO Canada plus in print later.
Tadao, you have a strong history of significant global impact in leadership, research and innovation. Your work has shaped world history. Thank you for sharing your considerable expertise, deep accumulated insights and wisdom with our audience.
Information technology is changing rapidly. Moore's law started when I was a student. Computer technology is changing the fastest. Now computers are the most important component of many equipment including home appliances and automobiles. In these systems surrounding us, all will further change continuously. In infrastructure which is traditionally expected to be stable for a long time, change has sometimes encountered difficulty. Function and services of infrastructure are also subject to change. To have coordinated architecture to accept change is the most important property of technology for the future of our society. It is requested for experts of information technology to share the vision with the society of the future world based on information technology.
Tadao, you are a pioneering legend who has shaped our present world and you have laid the foundation for global communications and networks. For my first question, I will go back to your early days. Can you share your experiences and insights from the University of Tokyo?
In my early days computers were still low in performance and expensive. Electronics were used broadly in telecommunication signal transmission. I graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1963. At that time computers were mainly used for research but not in social services. Only in communication business electronics are used as the base of socially active service. So I selected my study subject in use of electronics for communication business. But at the same time I am very much interested in a variety of possibilities to use electronics in socially useful applications. Starting from telecommunication systems I worked in a variety of subjects on social application of information technology.
As Chief Scientist and CTO for Toyota, one of the most important positions in the world as Toyota is a global Fortune 8 company, what is the future of ubiquitous information services?
Automobiles are one of most important and useful fields to use electronics. The success started from air prolusion control of engine to have smog less air in big cities. Stand alone use of electronics improved the automobile in broad applications and what is now required is to connect automobile in automobile to automobile communication and in automobile to infrastructure communication. What I am interested in is the creation of attractive and useful automobiles using network technology.
What are your top 5 goals as CTO and how will you measure success in achieving your goals?
Soon after human beings appeared on the earth, our ancestors started to move on the earth and penetrated globally starting from Africa to South America. Mobility is the most important nature of human being. In history, human beings started to construct cities and roads, interconnecting cities. Realization of efficient and safe mobility is the essential way to improve human society.
- We are now surrounded by many information equipment in home and office. In automobile, information environment comparable to home environment is not realized. First wish is to realize information environment equivalent to home in automobile.
- The network is to be connected to a variety of information sources. Information source is provided by auto manufacturer and also by independent sources. Avoidance of malware in such open environment is an important subject to be resolved.
- From the viewpoint of the auto manufacturer, continuous monitoring of the operation of the automobile used by the end user is near future requirement. Confirmation of operation of equipment and advising to driver on safer and energy efficient use of automobiles is the initial application of monitoring.
- Important goal is to realize accident free automobile, by means of automobile to automobile and automobile to infrastructure communication. Variety of advices to be used by driver are possible to reduce accident. Ultimately goal is automated driving free from human intervention in freeway and finally in city road.
- Another important objective is CO2 free mobility. Effective use of electrical automobile is difficult without use of communication support. In long future, in-city and intercity movement should be based on automated mobility system composed of new mobility and communication.
What are your 5 lessons in leadership from your role as CTO?
- Information technologies are used in a variety of fields, and branching into so many specialties to realize all the aspect of technology by a small company is impossible. Most important matter is to share our needs and information specialist's interests.
- To have common interests, sharing of vision among automobile specialists and information specialist is important. Leadership to create common interests in broad range of technical group is important. Technical talk in a variety of occasions is useful for this purpose. One of my activities including international trip is to share the vision based on presentations in a variety of meetings.
- Communication system is originally for human to human communication. In recent tendency of global saturation of communication demand, communication specialists are now seeking for a new market for non human communication. This tendency is called in variety of ways like ubiquitous communication, machine to machine communication and other terminologies. Recently many of government lead research subjects are in this field. To have leadership in new generation network study is important to create common interests for automobile communication.
- For members of my company, I encourage them to have leadership in a variety of interdisciplinary academic activities.
- From the view point of time needed for development, development cycle of automobile is much longer than information industry. In many cases, it takes at least 3 years and sometimes 5 years to realize product based on new technology. The long period is needed to confirm safety and a long test period is required for this purpose. It is also needed to have common understanding among different specialties in differences of engineering consideration.
Tadao, can you profile your current research and what you hope to achieve and the value to the broader audience?
My current research is on automobile to automobile communication without infrastructure. This is a kind of mobile ad hoc network studied broadly in communication specialists. From the viewpoint of the automobile it is needed to know the performance requested for automobile application. If the performance parameters are accepted among network specialists and if the view of the market is clarified, collaboration must be much easier. Of course the performance figures depend on application. Easiest application to help human drivers will be realized in near future, and in a long future this technology can be used for automatic driving to realize accident free highway.
Describe three areas of controversy or much discussion in the areas that you research.
- Drivers driving automobiles are supposed to concentrate on driving. In many network applications, how driver can be involved in information exchange is always a problem. Establishment of safe driving environment in which driver can use information is essential.
- Automobile safety is traditionally the responsibility of driver. At the same time effort of driver is not enough to realize accident free traffic. Information technology will realize much safer environment, but will not be perfect for some initial period. How we can have understanding of society in the period is a difficult issue.
- The understanding of social problem can be different country by country and manufacturer by manufacturer. This difference will further complicate the situation. As information technology changed our everyday life, by ubiquitous network technology, many aspects of society will be changed. Change in mobility is typical social change, and understanding of society is the key for success for change which will eventually enrich human life in the future. This social aspect will more generally appear in future society.
In your research, what are your top five ways of measuring success?
Automobile design needs a long period. Of course market acceptance and common global use is final success. Before that, we must set a variety of intermediate success.
- interest of information specialists
- interest of automobile specialists
- understanding of society on the function
- standardization of the key components
- market success to realize attractive products
In your current research, what are your top 3 challenges and top 3 opportunities? How will the challenges be solved and the opportunities be actioned?
- We have many Tablets and PND (personal navigation device), already penetrated randomly to be carried into automobile. In some operation, these equipment have risk to cause distraction of drivers. In some countries these equipment are regulated by government, and some no regulation.
- To avoid risk, provision of less expensive and more attractive equipment which avoid distraction is needed. This is an important challenge for all automobile related manufacturers.
- For more long term challenge, replacement human driver by automatic driving is to be realized. Step by step introduction of partial automatic driving has already started and gradually come into real automatic.
- A variety of information environment has already accepted by the market. This is the base of new functions to be used by people inside automobile.
- An example of automatic driving which is not noticed by driver is cruise control (CC) to keep the speed of automobile without human intervention. In some automobile, CC is adaptive to adjust the speed to the speed of the automobile you are following. This is called adaptive cruise control (ACC).
- In ACC, control is based on the measurement of distance using radar. If the operation of the automobile ahead can be noticed to following car by wireless communication, the following car can adjust the speed before distance between car changes. This is called cooperative ACC ( CACC ). This can be start of automatic driving in near future.
Can you profile your research in communication networks and its social applications such as ITS (Intelligent Transport System)?
ITS is the technology based on a variety of communication between automobile and infrastructure and between automobile and automobile. The communication between automobile and infrastructure has already broadly used in a variety of applications including fee collection. Next step is to realize communication between automobile and automobile for application like safety assist and sharing of information among automobiles running nearby. This kind of communication is M2M communication for which many researches are ongoing.
What are the outcomes you are driving as chairman of the New Generation IP Network Forum of Japan?
New generation IP network research is called in different way in variety of countries. Some times the research is called post IP network. In the US, a variety of subjects to improve the network wide operation are studied. It includes open flow network and mobility first network studies. In our New Generation IP Network Forum of Japan, we are discussing a variety of social applications M2M IP network to know the performance parameters of the network, including communication setup time, communication speed, and busy time traffic. This study assumes a variety of applications including health care, energy saving, home network, automobile safety, etc. To share the information among broad range of specialists is an important framework for open innovation.
You made what is widely considered to be the most important contributions to digital communications and computer networks. Can you share your work on switching networks and its global impact?
My study which led to global change of communication network is the invention of time division switching network of time-space-time type. The switch was applied for patent in 1964 and the patent was assigned to ATT Bell Lab., because the study was done under the sponsorship of Bell Lab. The principle was used as the core switch of the world's first digital switch put in the field in 1975 as No4ESS. Before that all telephone switches were based on mechanical switch element using metal contact. After the No4ESS toll switch, Bell lab developed No5ESS local switch, again based on my time-space-time switching network. After that, a variety of TDM switches were developed by a variety of communication system manufactures in the world around 1980's, and in all switches the core component of the switch is based on my patent. Production of TDM switches continued for 20 years and still used as the main component for telephone service in the world. Before TDM switch, telephone switching system was bulky, heavy equipment. TDM switch made it possible to realize compact switch taking advantage of improvement of electronics. Using the technology, competition of traditional carriers and new carriers became possible and drastic price reduction of telephone charge became possible. During the period of TDM switch, in almost all countries regulation of telecom carrier was changed and competition of infrastructure was started. This deregulation is essential to start internet services globally.
It means that the global telecommunication network formulation including internet started from TDM switch technology using the core component of my invention. This is the global impact of my study which changed the world.
How is voice switching shifting from TDM to IP?
Internet is the next global network after telephone network, which has been the only global telecommunication infrastructure for 100 years. Global service of internet started from 1992 by the deregulation of ITU. After that, use mode of internet changed rapidly to make broadband contents possible. Now much more information is handled by the internet compared to telephone network. Mass production and improvement of optical transmission, justified by the high traffic of internet made the cost of internet much low compared with telephone service. Using the condition, cost of voice services using IP is lower than TDM switch. Because of this reason, the majority of telecomm manufacturers who used to produce TDM switch stopped production. In addition, many people who used telephone for everyday life replaced the communication to mail. Total telephone traffic is also reduced sharply. Still penetration of broadband service is not enough in many countries. Quality of voice by IP telephony using narrow band internet is still lower than TDM telephony. This is caused by change of basic technology and total replacement of telephone to IP will take further 10 years.
Describe your work as a member of the designing group for the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Traffic Signal Control System?
The study is sponsored by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Authority which controls all traffic signals of the city. Signal is to be controlled to maximize the traffic capacity of the road. Controlled parameters are the signal period, split, and phase of signal between neighboring intersections. These parameters are controlled based on measurement of traffic in each link of the road. For this purpose, traffic of each link must be measured and all signals are to be controlled. For this purpose, a large scale network is requested. In early 1970's, computers are still low in capability and construction of big system need a lot of effort. My function is to design total architecture of the system using a one mainframe computer to calculate the signal parameter and a number of mini-computers for communication to distributed signals and traffic sensors. It took nearly 10 years for construction to control all signals in Tokyo, and capacity of city traffic was estimated to be increased by 20% by the effect of computer control. At the period, communication to automobile from infrastructure was difficult because of premature wireless technology. Terminology of ITS had not been used at the time, but this was the first large scale information system support for traffic improvement. This system was penetrated into many cities in Japan. In parallel with the effort of Tokyo, similar system also constructed in US cities. Traffic situation of big US city is different from that of Japan, therefore US cities having comparable scale to that of Tokyo is still rare.
Tell us more about your books?
- My first book is "Introduction of Electronic Circuit" published in 1977. This book covers basic digital and analogue circuits for students who studied the subject first time.
- My second book is "Programming by FORTRAN" (1980). This book is for students who studies programming first time. At that time I was the director of computer center of the University of Tokyo for student training.
- My third book is "Good Programs of FORTRAN" (1981). This book includes examples of easy to read FORTRAN programs. And describes importance of readability of program for collaborative development of software.
- The other books include "Digital Circuitry" (1982), "Programming by Assembly language Z80" (1983), "Programming by PASCAL" (1984), "Computer Architecture" (1985), and "Digital Communication Network" (1989).
In addition to these books I have more than 20 books co-authored by several people including me. Some of these books were translated into Korean but majority are Japanese only.
What is the impact of your work on the “deregulation of communication services”?
I worked on the "deregulation of communication network" in collaboration with Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication of Japanese Government starting from 1978. My initial interest is on digital computer network. I felt many of digital network applications were restricted by the monopoly of network services by the telecommunication carrier NTT. We worked on University Computer Networks like ARPANET 1973-1976 but because of monopoly, although the system was completed by 1976, we must wait the inauguration of operation for 5 years waiting for service of data packet network operated by NTT. I proposed a competitive environment for communication services, and helped the government working in the direction. NTT monopoly was ended in 1985, and competition started.
From this time, I worked with government in all aspect of communication deregulation.
- First effect is sharp drop price of traditional long distance telephone services. Charge of Tokyo-Osaka telephone connection dropped by 80% in 15 years.
- New digital services became common and a variety application services started.
- New communication network represented by Metro-Ether service appeared around 2000, and sharp drop of ISP cost became reality.
- In cell phone services, because of competition, price is also reduced sharply, and a variety of computer communication became reality around 2000.
- After 2000, competition of ADSL and optical fiber made price competition effective, and cost of broadband access is lowest in Japan in global comparison now.
What lessons can you share as chairman of the Telecommunication Business Committee of the Telecommunication Council of the Japanese government?
On regulation of communication network, government must consult the Telecommunication Business Committee of the Telecommunication Council.
In the sense, the council has a big power on communication policy. Communication law in Japan experienced major change in 1985 and 1998, and I became the chairman of Telecommunication Business Committee in 1998 and keep the position for nearly 4 years, helping the government on execution of 1998 law. Major change in 1998 law is asymmetric regulation on incumbent service provider to enhance competition. Use of equipment of incumbent carrier by new carriers is called unbundling. This is a good rule to enhance competition but at the same time if unbundling is improper, the rule can cause difficulty in future development of telecommunication network. In this sense, regulator must have a vision of long future of global network. I helped the government from the technical viewpoint. But this function is a difficult function which needs leadership on a broad aspect of services and technologies. So far, my leadership resulted in successful improvement of network services in Japan, but we must be careful as such success is only possible by deep understanding of technology.
What lessons can you share as Japanese representative for the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) General Assembly and Technical Committee 6 (Communication Systems)?
I have been the Japanese representative of IFIP TC6 since 1994 and GA representative since 2006. Since I have a longer history in TC6, let me start from TC6 first.
TC6 have 2 committee meetings a year. It is interesting to find that more than 30 members got together globally and frequently. The oldest member continued to be the national representative since the first year of TC6 (1972). All members are so familiar and exchange information twice every year. It is a special community in the center of study on telecommunication. Such relationship is possible because the majority of members are from European countries. If some member visited other countries, often the visitor contacts the representative of the visited country to renew acquaintances. To continue this kind of relationship is sometimes difficult to continue for a long time; many of Asian and American countries tend to have less frequent attendance. I attended 22 meetings out of 36 since 1994, and enjoyed the close relationship with representatives from other countries. Lessons I learned are the situation of telecommunication research of each country and found that subjects interested in are same in some cases and in some cases different country by country. Examples of lessons is in many European countries, more practical research are selected even in universities but in North America, university studies are generally more theoretical. I understood the background of the differences by free talking.
In general assembly, in recent 5 years I was so much impressed by the difficulty of management of academic societies in the world. Although information technology became the most important social technology which grows global economy, the number of members of each academic society is decreasing rapidly. In some countries payment of annual fee to IFIP is difficult and retired from IFIP membership. IFIP did not find the way to resolve the issue. WCF held in Shenzhen is one of a trial to move IFIP to more social interest not only in academic interest.
Please share what you learned from your roles with the IEEE and IEICE?
In IEEE I was a communication switching committee member of communication society for a long time. I studied a lot on future of communication switching technology.
In IEICE, I got lessons on management of an academic society. One of the difficulties of many academic societies, when researchers lose interest to submit papers to the society, number of young members tends to decrease. A kind of monopoly on paper publication by US societies including IEEE and ACM caused the difficulty of many other academic societies outside the US. When I was the president of IEICE, the effort is concentrated on collection of papers from Asian countries. When I was the president of IEICE, the number of papers from China and Korea exceeded the number of papers from Japan in English journal of IEICE. Continuous effort is important to keep stable operation of academic societies.
Tadao, can you profile additional areas of your extensive research history and three valuable lessons you wish to share from each of your top four research areas?
A: Additional area 1. Mutual synchronization: Mutual synchronization that I studied is the most basic framework for digital communication network. In digital communication clock all switches must be synchronized. If difference of clock exists data transmitted is lost in the same rate of difference of clock frequency. It can be avoided if buffer is inserted and signal transmission stops for a duration during which buffer transmit all stored data. For this purpose, data transmission by users must be controlled because of imperfect nature of the network. When I studied mutual synchronization in mid 1960's, the cost of atomic clock was so expensive that it is difficult to have an atomic clock in each switching point. In mutual synchronization each switching point have a simple clock source and the clock sources control each other and adjust the frequency by themselves to have identical frequency. This is based on automatic control of frequency. Actually a network include so many number of independent clock sources and one stable common frequency is to be composed by mutual interaction.
I proved that the system have complete stability even when the links have any delay, and established a beautiful theory.
But actual selection of clock infrastructure used by industry is simple and expensive atomic frequency generator. They do not need any control theory and simple. Now every country has one common master clock and all other switching stations are controlled by forced control from the central clock. Network of each country thus have a common frequency by a stable atomic oscillator. But still in international frequency adjustment, the principle of mutual synchronization is used.
It is somewhat common to my principle but different my original idea of clock harmonization of autonomic oscillators.
- In real system, simple principle is selected even though the system is more expensive. Considering training cost to operate a theoretically beautiful system, simple system can be more economical. Although I wrote a many papers using beautiful control theory, these resulted in theory for theory.
- Communication engineers have beautiful network theory and noise theory. But it is difficult to educate them on another theory, i.e. control theory.
- Still, in cases autonomic management is important, simplified system based on a strange theory can be used.
Additional area 2. Multi-Star Ether switch
Around 1975, I am interested in ALOHA system proposed for satellite access. At that time a lot of improvement was possible to improve performance of ALOHA, and I wrote several papers to improve ALOHA. Almost at same time Ethernet was invented and 10 years later, started to be broadly used as a simple method for network access. In Ethernet only one terminal can access the network at a time. It started by coaxial line for transmission and some proposal was found to use optical fiber in star type configuration. Even in star configuration, in Ethernet principle, only one terminal can access the network at one time. I proposed a Ether switch called Multi Star and wrote several papers for the Multi Star, but I did not applied patents of Multi Star. My papers are at around 1987, and I found many of similar products in the market after 2000. Current Ether switch seems to be depending on my initial study, but no one remembers of my early study. Now by further improvement to technology, high capacity buffer storage is possible, my idea of bufferless star network lost interests.
- In the process of technical development, many ideas can appear independently in many studies. If some priority is needed, just to write a paper is not enough.
- Basic use of an idea may be to write a paper for university professors. I may satisfied by writing a paper.
- In a case new system started to be used, we may have many possibility of invention. It is also important to put many ideas to the new system. The life of the idea is not very long, and it will be more important to create another possibility based on the experience.
Additional area 3: University computer network
Around 1973, I worked for a computer center of the University of Tokyo. At that time computer is a very expensive resource and sharing of the resource was requested. With the collaboration of manufacturers, I developed a computer network connecting universities. But in Japanese law at that time we cannot construct our own network but must depend on carriers network, and because of the delay of inauguration of carrier packet data network we must wait 5 years after development of the successful computer network. During that time cost of computer dropped sharply and effects of sharing was not appreciated. Similar result can be observed in the US DARPA network, but DARPA network created internet as the independent communication network which resulted in replacement of traditional carrier network. But because of legal regulation we failed to create a new network.
- The experience caused my activity as the telecommunication regulator. As my activity I took maximum lessons from the experience.
- Cost of computer constantly drops. Study to reduce the cost must be done in short time.
- In infrastructure related activity, depending on cases close collaboration with carriers can be requested. But even in the case, inauguration of the infrastructure service is not easy. We must be very careful on the decision of a big organization like a traditional carrier.
Additional area 4: Conformance test of network standard
Before 1985 deregulation of Japanese telecom network, all telecomm equipment must be purchased from the monopoly carrier. The carrier guaranteed the performance and connectivity of the equipment. As a part of my contribution to government, I proposed to organize a group of equipment manufactures called HATS (Harmonization of Advanced Telecommunication System) and started a series of conformance tests for the new equipment. The activity was successful, and in 15 years HATS tested more than 1000 types of communication equipment. I am still the chairman of HATS. Recently, connectivity test of ITU standard based equipment is requested by many developing countries, and ITU secretariat want to have similar test internationally and HATS have some activity to help ITU. It is also noticed that this kind of guarantee is only possible when interests of all related members are common.
- The background of success of HATS is that the majority of manufacturers joined to test were former suppliers to NTT. They understood the common standard, and importance of connectivity.
- If manufacturer want to be a monopoly supplier of the country and want to exclude each other, they tend to use different subset of the standard and easy to produce non-connectable equipment. If ITU want to have connectable set of equipment the way to prepare ITU recommendation must be changed.
- In this sense, the Japanese government has enough wisdom to understand the difficulty. HATS member want to transfer the experience to ITU; however, it is not successful for the time being.
You were a key participant at the November 2011, first World CIO Forum (WCF). What 5 key lessons can you share from the WCF?
- By WCF I was very much impressed by rapid advances of Chinese computer technology, I enjoyed very much to know the advances. As the trial to impress visitors on improvement of Chinese technology, WCF was successful.
- It seems that IFIP wanted to make WCF as another academic meeting of IFIP which is comparable to WCC or WITFOR. Viewing WCF from that interest, CIO forum has different nature.
- In academic meetings university professors and students are willing to write papers and attend to talk in the meeting free of charge. This is because speakers are evaluated by the quality of presentation. In the case of CIO, they are top managers of organization, and evaluated by the profit of the organization created by the computer system. They are never evaluated by the presentation. How IFIP can promote that kind of incentive to potential speakers is the key to success of WCF.
- In the meeting, we found many young practitioners attending WCF. They must learn much.
- To attract real CIO, high level talk of newer technology which is the key for success of future system can be useful. Considering the situation that CIO is always facing -- visits from many vendors to sell equipment -- these talks must be higher level talk which usual vendor cannot provide. Talk on future technology in early stage of use can be attractive for CIOs.
More generally, what specific technologies should IT practitioners be embracing today and in two years, five years?
Complexity of software will be more and more serious in future IT. Automatic software generation from specification is now more practical and will be more important. Also, quality assurance of software will attract more interest.
More generally, what specific technologies should businesses be embracing today and in two years, five years?
Analysis of big data and software for that have already started and will be more important technology for all organization in the future. Size of data which can be analyzed practically will increase rapidly and idea to use big data will expand as the competition edge of many organizations.
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how we can best prepare?
Also in coming future, cost of energy will be higher and cost reduction of electricity and energy in general will be more important. In current discussion, energy issue is discussed on global warming and CO2 reduction. But in near future energy issue will be discussed on real economy base.
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession like medicine and law, with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized credentials?
[See www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
As for professionals, medical and law professional have a long history, sometimes several thousand years. In every use of professional capability, activity of medical and law professional is related directly to lives and destiny of individual people. So problem of ethics is easier to understand from the viewpoint of the general public. On the other hand, in the case of information technology, many of issues of activity of professionals are related to organizations which use information technology. Problem of ethics will appear indirectly, and sometimes difficult to be realized by individuals. At the same time, class of IT professionals is distributed to many levels, and scope of responsibility is different class by class. In this sense, creation of commonly recognized credential is more difficult compared to medical and law professionals. Considering that medical and law credential ware established in long history, further continuous effort is requested globally. IP3 is the start of the important global activity.
From your extensive travels and work, please share 3 stories (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).
- Amazing: The most beautiful natural view I experienced is Canadian Rockies. I first visited the area in 1975, and revisited twice there and drove through Banff to Edmonton in 1990 and 1999. Each time I took all my family of 5 members: myself my wife and three daughters. The beauty is combination of lakes, mountains and ice. I am very much afraid that area of ice is shrinking constantly.
- Unexpected: City traffic situation is different country by country, and changes rapidly. When I visited China first time in 1980, the city was fully occupied by bicycles. When I visited in 1990, bicycles are partly replaced by motorcycles. I visited Ho Chi Minh in 2006; the city was occupied by motorcycles. From the airport to the hotel I went by a taxi, the taxi was surrounded by motorcycles in distance of a foot on both sides, ahead and rear. Driving seems be very difficult and dangerous. In the visit to Shenzhen this time, I found that there is no motorcycle in the city, and bicycle is rare. I heard that in major cities in China, motorcycle is prohibited. Then in the next week I was in Amsterdam for 3 days and I walked to watch the city. I found so many bicycles there. Manner of riding of bicycle in the city looked to be so bad and pedestrian must be careful not to be hit by bicycles. Traffic situation of many cities so different and prediction of mobility in future seems to be difficult. Understanding of cities is very much depends on such situation of mobility. Design of city is such a complex issue, and careful understanding of life of people of the city is important.
- Surprising: My biggest surprise in my life is on unbelievable intelligence of babies just born. I have two grandsons living in Bordeaux, France. The elder boy was born in December. In next April the family of my daughter visited my home in Yokohama. It was a beautiful day with cherry blossoms in full bloom, and I took the baby of 4 months and my son-in-law to a garden where we enjoyed the flowers. 2 years later, my daughter and the boy visited us in April again. At that time I took the boy to the same garden with cherry blossoms. Suddenly my grandson recalled the day when he visited the garden with his father and said he have visited there with his father and talked on the situation of that time saying he was on a stroller. I realized that young baby remembers on variety of situations he experienced. We do not understand such intelligence of a young baby, because he cannot talk. When baby started to talk we can confirm the memory. I heard that that kind of memory is erased in age of 3 years. My grandson does not remember any more. But at that time I was so much surprised on intelligence of young baby.
Tadao, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.
Stephen, although your questions are so many, and I spend many time after dinner to fill up the sheets, I enjoyed to answer. It is a good chance for me to recall my past work. I am sorry to write too much. You may have difficulty to understand in some answer but I hope you find my answer is useful.
I also realized that the time I started study on communication is very lucky timing. Technology was still young and I had so many opportunities to study new ideas to contribute to the world. So far I believe that I was able to contribute for current society and human being. In that sense I am a lucky person.
Tadao Saito’s Profile:
- CTO Toyota-InfoTechnology Center
- Professor Emeritus, the University of Tokyo
- Former president of IEICE (Institute of Information, Electronics and Communication Engineers)
- Life fellow of the IEEE
- Honorary member and life fellow of the IEICE
- Official Japan Delegate to IFIP GA and Technical Committee 6 (Communication Systems)
Prof. Tadao Saito received his PhD. in electronics from the University of Tokyo in 1968. Subsequently he served as lecturer, associate professor and professor of the University of Tokyo, where he is now a Professor Emeritus.
Since April 2001, Saito is the Chief Scientist and CTO of Toyota InfoTechnology Center, where he studies future ubiquitous information services around automobiles.
Professor Saito has worked in a variety of subjects related to digital communication and computer networks. His first patent from 1964 is on digital time division switching networks and he invented both Time-Space-Time and Space-Time-Space time division switches which are the core technology for time division (TDM) telephone switching systems globally used since 1975. Although voice switching is now shifting from TDM to IP, Tadao's switching principle is still the core technology in traditional voice switching systems generally used in the world. His research includes a variety of communication networks and its social applications such as ITS (Intelligent Transport System). Saito is also the chairman of New Generation IP Network Forum of Japan.
Included in his past research from the 1970's, Saito was a member of the designing group for the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Traffic Signal Control System. This system was designed to control 7000 intersections under the Tokyo Police Authority.
Tadao authored two books on electronic circuitry, four books on computers and two books on digital communication and multimedia. He also worked on a variety of "deregulation of communication services" to form a legal framework suited for advanced network technology in Japan. From 1998 to 2002 he was the chairman of the Telecommunication Business Committee of the Telecommunication Council of the Japanese government and contributed to regulatory policy of telecommunication business for broadband networks. Based on the new regulations, Japan now has a penetration of optical fiber involving 40% of total households, which is No.1 in the world.
Tadao is also the Japanese representative for the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) General Assembly and Technical Committee 6 (Communication Systems). He is a life fellow of the IEEE and honorary member and life fellow of the IEICE.