About the centerFuture of Humanity Research Center

 Technology has brought about a massive shift in our lives and is quietly shaking up the definition of “human.”
It may not be long before we make decisions based on the judgement of AI.
As human genome editing technology develops, it becomes more likely that humans could intervene in their own evolutionary process.

 Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? In order to bring out the greater potential of technology,
it is indispensable to set practical and essential questions on what humanity will be like decades or centuries from now.
We must explore from various angles the changes technology is making to humanity, the values to be protected,
and the potential it has, keeping in step with cutting-edge science and technology research.

 In February 2020, in order to find answers to these questions, the “Future of Humanity Research Center” was established in the Institute of Innovative Research at Tokyo Tech.
Although born from a science and technology university, the new center is focused on the humanities and social sciences
and is home to various researchers from the Institute for Liberal Arts. The maximum term for members is two years, in principle, which ensures the
constant inhalation and exhalation of fresh perspectives, as if the center itself were breathing.

Furthermore, the center collaborates with science and technology researchers and experts from a diverse range of fields both nationally and internationally.
From our base at Tokyo Tech, we ponder the future of humanity and communicate with the world through our actions and spirit.
  • Organization

In February 2020, the Future of Humanity Research Center was established in the Institute of Innovative Research (IIR) in order to promote liberal arts study. The IIR is an organization that comprises world-class research teams at Tokyo Tech, including the Cell Biology Center led by honorary professor and Nobel laureate Yoshinori Ohsumi. The Future of Humanity Research Center is focused on the humanities but walks hand in hand with leading-edge science and technology research. Under an internal cross-appointment system, ILA faculty belong to the center for two years, in principle.
  • Member

    • Asa Ito
    • Asa Ito,Professor

      Director of FHRC, Art


      The Future of Humanity Research Center draws together knowledge from across the boundaries between the humanities and sciences, industry and academia, and theory and practice. What makes the center somewhat extraordinary is that people can only encounter different knowledge after they separate from the viewpoint, values, and philosophy in which they are usually immersed. Long-term thinking as opposed to immediate judgement; diverse wisdom instead of a single correct answer. I am eager to take a fresh look at humanity through the lens of rita — the Japanese word for altruism.
    • Kumiko Kiuchi
    • Kumiko Kiuchi,Associate Professor

      Chief Editor of “COMMONS”, Comparative Literature


      Understanding the others somewhat resembles to translation. The work of translation is about transferring the words and the meanings of the original text written in a certain language to another with understanding it faithfully as possible. The word "faithfully" seems to imply the contribution toward the others such as the original text. But it is extremely challenging. Because of the difference between languages and the difference between the cultural and social contexts, combined with the biases of the translators themselves, misunderstandings and misreadings are inevitable. However, the possibility of understanding only arises when you approach and contact the others. Understanding the others as a process of attempts──in this process, rita could be something only discovered a posteriori (and in many cases, remains undiscovered), one kind of (and countless possibilities of) serendipity.
    • Kyohhei Kitamura
    • Kyohhei Kitamura,Associate Professor

      Rita Project Leader, Studies of Culture and Representation


      I wonder how the technology called visuals has been projecting rita so far. The deed called visual expression is a type of fiction which differs from everyday demeanor and appeals the watchers with non-linguistic force. Going through an eye of a camera, it sometimes resonates with the memories of the watchers or make them recognize recursively the activities and the worlds which are unseen or unnoticeable in everyday life. I also wonder how the mediation of smartphones, social media and social VR platforms around us relate to rita. At Future of Humanity Research Center, I would like to pursue the possibility of rita-ism from the aspect of visual/media technologies.
    • Yoshimi Takuwa
    • Yoshimi Takuwa,Lecturer

      History of Science


      The most exciting part of the history of science is to see the appearance of a theory that overcomes the common sense (paradigm) of the time, and to see contemporary scientists frantically conducting experiments and debating whether the theory would be accepted or not.
      Since the existing scientific community was formed by the paradigm of the preceding era, it generally finds it hard to accept an outrageous theory that will turn into the paradigm of a new era. For this reason, I love "selfish" scientists (e.g. Newton) who disregard the scientific community, give up even discussion of the issues, and develop outrageous theories of their own. At the Future of Humanity Research Center, I would like to focus my work on a scientific community that has a rita-ish tendency, in order to deeply understand the behavior of such selfish scientists.
    • Hugh de Ferranti
    • Hugh de Ferranti,Professor



      A student asked me ‘Who wants to get back to reality through music?!’
      I understood just what he meant - as immersive as dreaming, music helps us get through this life precisely because it takes us ‘out’ of our mundane world. Yet music is both in the world and within our bodies; it is itself an overwhelming reality. Even if we make it with AI programs, we experience it as sonic energy, and we cannot stop it; the only way to ‘get away’ from music is to leave, or else force the musicians or machines to stop. We are all in it together.
    • Aya Kawamura
    • Aya Kawamura,Assistant Professor

      Russian Culture


      I specialize in art history, focusing on Russian and Soviet visual culture. Although an artist cannot complete his works without the audience, he creates them on his own imagination and concept, not being aware of the audience. On the other hand, the audience gets a strong impression from art works. He feels comfortable or even uncomfortable, when he contemplates them. In other words, there is communication between the artist, works, and the audience, and sometimes it works beyond our expectations. In this point, art can be considered in the relation to rita, that is not a one way from the giver to the taker. I am looking forward to developing my consideration of art from the view point of rita.
    • 蛭田彩人協力研究員(2021.1 〜)

  • OB

    • Takeshi Nakajima
    • Takeshi Nakajima,Professor (2020.2 〜2022.3)

      Rita Project Leader, Political Science


      A constant emphasis on self-reliance, bashing welfare recipients, and an exclusive attitude toward immigrants are conspicuous in western society. I wonder if the spirit of rita will become crucial to the future of humanity, as people are losing tolerance and scrambling over limited slices of the pie. Can other exchange systems such as gifting work against a global capitalist system that widens the gap between rich and poor? At the Future of Humanity Research Center, I hope to develop a new rita-ism, bringing together the wisdom of the humanities and social sciences, and conducting a dialogue with the knowledge of science and technology.
    • Eisuke Wakamatsu
    • Eisuke Wakamatsu,Professor (2020.2 〜2022.3)

      Human Studies


      The deeper the act of rita goes, the less “rita-ish” it tends to appear. Besides, it often occurs without the donor and recipient being aware. For example, the world is now paying attention to the issue of climate change. This could benefit not only our contemporaries but also generations to come. I hope we can keep rita-ism at the forefront of our minds as we bridge various fields.
    • Kenichiro Isozaki
    • Kenichiro Isozaki,Professor (2020.2 〜2022.3)



      The role of a novelist is neither to convey the author’s message through their work nor bring to light problems in modern society through stories, as is commonly believed, but to update the novel’s form and serve its history and genealogy one sentence at a time, as if thrusting into uncharted territory. In other words, novels are by no means self-expression. It is not the author as an individual, but the world around them that should be illuminated.
    • Koichiro Kokubun
    • Koichiro Kokubun,Visiting Associate Professor (2020.2 〜2022.3)



      The term rita is composed of the characters for “benefit” and “others.” Philosophy has a rich accumulation of the concept of others. However, I now feel that concept is being swayed silently but extensively. Philosophy is becoming aware of the need to think of others, traditionally emphasized as being “different” rather than “similar.” This huge conceptual transformation will change the meaning of “benefit,” which was formerly considered obvious. I am quietly excited about the possibility of a rita-ism that brings a tectonic shift in philosophy.
    • Taro Yamazaki
    • Taro Yamazaki,Professor (2020.2 〜2022.3)

      German Opera / German Literature


      When you get concerned deeply with the fate of the others, or, when you get fascinated by something, be it art or sports, you would feel your "self" somehow disappears from your consciousness. The experience is largely pleasant because you are opened up towards the outside and the outside flows into you. This interactive and unrestrained movement liberates you from the suffocation caused by your own ego. In this sense, rita is nothing but the inclination of one's mind to save oneself. It should be rooted deeply to the human nature itself, beyond any nominal behavior principles and superficial moral guidance. Through conversations with people and books, I would like to ponder on various manifestations of such rita.
Design : Fuminobu Nakamura (SEWI)
Web : Shota Watari (caren)
Photo : Naoki Ishikawa / Junya Igarashi/Tsutomu Ogino(TOMART)
Movie : Kazutoshi Hasegawa (hoozukisha)/Shinichi Arimoto(ginatayomi)
  • Event & Lab Spaceイベント&ラボスペース