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A decision at age 68.
Why I created the Shin Open Lab

Takahide Nakajima : Creator / Founder of Shin Open Lab

Due to the pandemic which lasted for more than two years, we have all experienced a self-restrained lifestyle, which society and individuals have never experienced. The pandemic has also caused me to make some big changes to my life plans.

A big change in direction of life
In the first stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was ready to go into retirement mode, or an end-of-life-planning mode, fearing every day what would happen to me if I contracted the coronavirus, since I was in all three of the high-risk groups of Covid-19, which were high age, pre-existing medical conditions, and smoking.
However, a lecture by Takeshi Yoro (a famous Japanese philosopher and author ), made me change my mind.
"It is impossible to live through old age without bothering other people, because you cannot clean up after your own death". These words shed new light on my life during the pandemic. So, I decided to live life in a more positive manner, without fearing death or what will happen when I die.

Decision at age 68 
Once I decided to live my life according to my free ambitions, I suddenly felt my world expanding. If I cannot live my life without bothering other people even if I live quietly, I would rather live my remaining life actively, so that it would be beneficial to others, without chasing personal fame or money.  

A place for chemical reactions
It has been a long time since the term open innovation has become popular. There are many so-called open laboratories in Japan.  However, I feel that they have not been effective.
I have been searching for a long time to find the cause for this.
It is my hypothesis that there is a gap in the process, an absence of what I call a "chemical reaction" kind of "fusing" process of "共感=co-experience" and "共創=co-creation". I felt a strong necessity for a place or a facility for such "chemical reactions" to occur.

Based on my own experience
While I was wondering how to create such a place or facility, I found the solution in my life experiences. I have over 30 years of experience as CEO of an IT system company, 15 years of experience in the academic world of research at The University of Tokyo Green ICT Project (GUTP), and an even longer private relationship with friends involved in traditional culture and art. I thought that something interesting might happen if we break down the walls of divided different worlds, real and virtual, digital and analog, technology and art.

Combining logical knowledge and empirical knowledge
The second hypothesis about a such place for a new method of innovation comes from my life experience,    「掛け合わせた3つの世界=integration of three worlds」.
AI/deep learning (DL) is a simple answer to “probability” that comes out of a computer.
The third hypothesis is that we can realize better life and society if we can combine theoretical knowledge with empirical knowledge that only humans can possess.

Shin Open Lab is a place for chemical reactions
Even though AI and DL can handle big data, it is extremely difficult to convert empirical knowledge into data or a form that can be taught to other people.
As a testing field for my hypothesis and for many to share the same experience, I created a  place for this purpose and named it Shin Open Lab.

A time limit of 3 years. Open to new challenges.
Due to the building's fixed-term lease contract, Shin Open Lab is Open for only three years. Three years is a very short time for any complex task. When you want to do something in a short time, you need the cooperation of many people. In order for many people to cooperate with each other, we have to make it open. There is a high possibility that we won't be able to reach the results in this time span to judge whether it was a success or failure. So there is no need to fear failure. This time limit of 3 years makes it open and available to new challenges.

Gallery Ku
In addition to the open lab, I have also created a Gallery space. It should allow more  POC (Proof of Concept) in a short span of time the Lab has.   It was inspired by Steve Jobs's words, “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them”. The gallery is a place to exhibit real things that are difficult to convey and feel feedback through remote or PowerPoint presentations. The gallery space is an empty space, with only the beautiful scenery outside. I tried to include the concept of borrowed scenery from Kyoto gardens. The name of the gallery is "Ku".  This is also an homage to the Zen philosophy of Steve Jobs.

Friends gathering
Now that I have the space, the next step is gathering collaborators. Associate Professor Manabu Tsukada of the University of Tokyo has assisted me in undertaking the role of Lab Director. This Lab has been certified by the GUTP (The University of Tokyo Green ICT Project, Chief Professor Hiroshi Esaki, University of Tokyo) as an official external experimental lab for the GUTP working group.
And, In the field of culture, which is another pillar of the Shin Open Lab, the
 藝○座 (Geimaruza) a Japanese classical dance organization consisting of graduates of the Japanese music department of Tokyo University of the Arts, led by Tatsuma Hanayagi, and photojournalist Naonori Kohira will participate as fellows.

An Office too. A new way of working
In tandem with the lab, we also set up an open office next to the Shin Open Lab which is conducting experiments on a new style of working. The design of the office was based on WeWork and WORK STYLING.  Our main purpose of this experiment is to create an office that does not have to increase its floor space when the number of employees increases.  Our plan is to use a nearby share office when more space is required.
We are against conventional values that if an employee is in the office, that actual work is really being done.
In this age, I think it would be better to be able to choose a place to work according to your necessity,  wherever you are.
The new office is based on ABW(Activity Working Space) concept and has free-address seats which are designed to provide good communication capabilities and at the same time to be able to concentrate on your task.  Not only physical elements, but we are also re-designing office rules at the same time.

Shin Open Lab.  A decision made at age 68.
I hope you have a chance to visit us, and if you agree with us, I hope you join us.

Takahide Nakajima

Shin Open Lab
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