Research at AIIT

Dialog with an Uncertain Future / Excerp (Irregular updates)

The 58th InstallmentThe 50th Year of Creating Myself

by Hideki Murakoshi,
Professor, Master Program of Innovation for design and Engineering

I was born November 18, 1962. I am now living the 50th year of my life. In today's column, I would like to look back on the last half-century, reflecting on the half a century of creating the man, Hideki Murakoshi.

My earliest memory was of myself causing a three-wheel vehicle to overturn. It was before I began kindergarten, and the driver of the three-wheeler was stunned by me because I suddenly ran onto a gravel road, forcing the driver to brake hard and causing the vehicle roll onto its roof. I believe some adults at the scene helped turn the vehicle upright, but I don't have a clear memory of the incident.

From infancy to the early years of elementary school, I was such a hyperactive kid. I was so interested in insects and small animals that I would run around until dark every day, preoccupied with trying to capture insects and yabbies. My summer holiday projects were always to collect insects for specimen displays. Rhinoceros beetles and saw-toothed stag beetles were the feature protagonists. One summer, while I was fishing with a net in a pond in Shakujii Park, a large hornet flew towards me. I swung my net around and surprisingly hit the hornet, knocking it into the pond. I took it home in a plastic bag along with the pond water and that year the hornet was my feature protagonist. I believe that running in the mountains at this time of my life was something that helped me to learn basic physical skills.

In the later years of elementary school I joined little league baseball and was really absorbed with baseball until the third year of junior high school (from the end of my first year of junior high school until third year I was in the senior league). I wasn't well built and not strong enough when I first started playing baseball, so I wasn't given many opportunities to play in the actual games. I believed that in order to get into a game I needed to keep training, so I put in a lot of effort every day by running and practicing my swing. This personal training, and the fact that I never missed any of the teams practice sessions, helped me to become a regular number seven left fielder. The team won the Kanto regional championship and progressed to the national championships at Jingu Stadium. I kept working hard after joining the senior league, and as a result, I was able to become third baseman and the leading hitter. The team finished third in the Kanto championship and lost in the first game of the national championships. However, one thing that disappointed me was that, although at the end of season presentations I was awarded the hardest working member of the team on three occasions, I was never awarded best player. It was at around this time that I learned that putting effort into what I believed was right would eventuate in a positive result. At the same time I came to realize that while it is important to make an effort, it's no good if that effort becomes too obvious.

While in junior high school my academic results were rather average largely due to my devotion to baseball and lack of study. I failed the entrance exam of my first choice high school and ended up somewhere else, beginning my somewhat dark high school years. My failure at the high school entrance exam seems to have caused me much frustration and prompted me to actually begin studying, something I had never previously enjoyed, for my university entrance exams. As a result, I got into engineering at a national university. One thing I learned from this experience is that I am motivated into taking action when I become frustrated.

I just mentioned that I studied hard while in high school, but to keep the record straight, I would like to tell you a short story to prove that I wasn't a so-called model student. During my first year of high school, our homeroom teacher encouraged us to sit for a nationwide mock exam, which was to be held during the summer holidays, to gain an understanding of our academic abilities. As I had told the school from the beginning that I intended to go on to university, the teacher signaled me out and said "you will be taking the test, won't you Murakoshi?" However, I answered, "It has only been four months since I began high school, and there is no point testing my academic abilities yet, so I won't be taking the test." As a result, the number of students sitting the test from my class was the lowest of the eight classes in the year level. It was decided that this was because of what I had said, and my mother was asked to come to the school to have words with my teacher. In the eyes of my high school teachers, I must have been quite a strange and difficult student.

Although I successfully got into my first choice university, just like my high school years, I was a very passive student and sat in lectures simply to gain credits, so I didn't really have any sense of fulfillment. I also participated in some university groups including the baseball club, ski club, and ESS, but I was never fully committed to any of them. During this time, a friend of mine from another university told me about an interesting theatrical production, MP (Model Production), and I immediately decided to audition. I did the audition without much idea of what was going on, but I somehow got through and joined the MP82 production. Of course I only had a small part, I was really only making up numbers on stage, but it was actually a very enjoyable experience. Through acting out the role of a character other than myself, I was able to experience a strange feeling. When I say strange, I mean that by acting out the character of another person, I began to develop an objective view of my every day life and myself, Hideki Murakoshi. At this time, for the very first time, I came to realize that I was acting out "Hideki Murakoshi" while creating the image of "Hideki Murakoshi" in my own mind. I also came to recognize that creating "Hideki Murakoshi" is about creating an image of myself that is not real and then acting it out.

In the meantime, I had entered my fourth year of university, and I was assigned to a research lab. The passive attitude that I had towards study up until the end of my third year gradually changed and I became more proactive in my research. While at graduate school, I researched controlling parallel processing computers using Petri nets. It is so much fun to come up with your own ideas and then begin creating something that does not yet exist. I then created for myself the image (role) of a university professor and decided to create “Hideki Murakoshi” in that image.

In 1991, I became a university professor (Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Technology) and, since then, have continued to create that which did not previously exist with my students, offering these creations to the world. These creations include a control system using a Petri net, a logic unit using a neural net, distance learning systems for circuit experiments, and e-Learning systems for the motor skill learning. In 2008, I moved into my current position, and under the subject of my major, emotion-function integration, I am practicing problem-based learning (PBL). One of the subjects that I have focused on is applied computer systems that allow you to experience comfort, affluence, and a sense of accomplishment. I have been hoping to use my research to develop a product that is not only functional but also allows you to experience a sense of comfort and affluence through the use of the product. However, in reality it has been difficult to achieve my objectives.

I have just entered the 50th year of creating the man "Hideki Murakoshi," but I am still struggling to reach completion. I wonder if that day will ever come.

Break time!
Recently, I've been having fun attaching titles to the pictures I take. It's a little silly, but I still find it a lot of fun. Perhaps something went wrong as I aged.

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