The digital ecosystem has now spread to the realm of physicality, and rather than calling it Ubiquitous "Computing": the way we “use” the computer, we should think of it as a state in which a "new nature (digital nature)": the state we are enrolled “in” is being constructed.
The development of computer science has connected computer simulation (verification and computation in the virtual world) (in silico / ex situ) and natural computation (verification and computation in the real world) (in situ / in vivo) outside the computer, and as a result of the iteration-Loop that have been established, a new view of nature and nature itself is emerging, which should be called "Digital Nature" (in silico-natura).
For example, the technology that allows computers to control wave phenomena such as sound and light has made it possible to produce objects (such as butterflies) suspended in midair that look like real objects, and to output objects (such as material samples) from a printer that are indistinguishable from originally-natural objects.
Digital Nature is synthesized by various methods, such as digital fabrication using 3D printers, AR/VR, genetic programming, robotics, and so on. These artificial creations evolve through a feedback loop in which they interact with the originally natural environment, are converted into digitized forms, and reintroduced back into nature.
Original nature has carried out various optimizations in the development of audiovisual perception (nervous system: middleware software) and the evolution of organism structure (physical system: hardware middleware) through these loops of intelligence and environment.
We believe that the philosophical, technological, and design exploration of a new nature through the recirculation of the boundary between the physical world and the virtual world of digital data has important implications in this age of inevitable awareness of sustainability. We believe that we should focus on value creation and the development of the next generation of human resources in anticipation of the advent of Digital Nature.
The University of Tsukuba is known for its large number of researchers not only in the field of computer science and engineering, but also in the fields of culture, art, and sports, and we feel that the university has great potential for advancing research and development in the area of Digital Nature. Therefore, we have established the " Research & Development Center for Digital Nature" in 2020, with the aim of developing and expanding new relationships between computers and nature in the fields of culture, art, and sports, while focusing on human computer interaction research.
The center is mainly engaged in research and development, human resource development, and social implementation. The center also actively participates in joint research with companies and public projects to apply its expertise in information technology and related fields to ESG issues.
from the Director
My name is Yoichi Ochiai, and I am the Director of the R&D Center for Digital Nature at the University of Tsukuba.
I have long been asking myself, "What is our relationship with the new nature that is continuously changing through digital technology?" In other words, how will the relationship between the new nature and the original nature, the human interface, change? I have been thinking about how art and expression will change.
Even in the post-smartphone world, human nature seems to have changed little compared to the ever-changing form of the computer. For example, what is the difference between classical diary literature and modern YouTubers, or what is the difference between Utakai and Hatsune Miku? There is a common story in Buddhism. Sand is falling, and between each grain of sand there is a world. Today, we are assembling smartphones using sand-sized capacitors. When the world is filled with sand-sized components, there will soon be artificial information processors in every grain of sand, and even a few drops of liquid will contain information like programmed genes. I look at the changing natural landscape with these eyes.
I have established the R&D Center for Digital Nature to further my research into our relationship with nature, which is continuously changing digitally. We are exploring the mutual transformation that occurs beyond the boundary between computers and nature, and are conducting research and prototyping for this purpose on a daily basis.
We are committed to giving back to society through research and prototyping to make the new nature brought about by computers a rich and sustainable one that is in harmony with humans, and to nurture human resources in the process.
Address: Kasuga Campus, Kasuga 1-2, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8550, Japan