The Asia Institute covers Asia not only in its seminars and reports, but engages at a much more deeper level by constant discussion with stakeholders at all levels across Asia about the critical issues of our time: the environment, the impact of technology on society, the future that our youth face and the changing nature of international relations. The Asia Institute is indeed a truly pan-Asian think tank.
The Asia Institute considers maintaining a balanced perspective on contemporary issues as its highest priority while taking into account the concerns of the entire region and the interests of all the stakeholders which spans across gender, cultural backgrounds and socio-economic status. These include but are not limited to technical experts, policy makers, local and regional communities and even high school students.
We provide an objective space wherein a significant discussion on current trends in technology, international relations, the economy and the environment is carried out. The ‘objective space’ acts as an open platform that allows any and every one to participate.
The economic growth and integration in Asia is increasing at a remarkable pace in terms of trade, technology and finance. Asia is no longer simply a hub for manufacturing, but also a cultural, intellectual and a strategic center for the world. However, despite Asia’s increasing role in on the geopolitical stage, a serious gap remains between the striking speed of integration in terms of logistics, energy and finance and the much retarded growth of intellectual communities and cultural exchange that address long-term common priorities.
The Asia Institute is dedicated to increasing the in-depth discussion between the citizens of Asia on the important issues of our age so that it parallels the level of prominence and attention of trade and finance. There is a desperate need for objective analysis and rigorous debate that goes beyond national borders and includes all stakeholders in Asia.
The Asia Institute focuses on these four interrelated issues which impact the entire world. We seek to interpret their significance and plan for a global response through a collaborative dialog that involves a broad range of experts in many countries.
The transformation of our society, and our economy, by the unprecedented rate of technological change.
Although the brick and mortar buildings around us are unchanged and the borders of countries remain essentially the same, our world has been and utterly transformed by technology. Communication technology brings together likes with likes across the globe in unpredictable combinations. The very process of determining truth from fiction is made ultimately more problematic as technology changes how we know and what we know, or do not know.
So also 3D printing makes it possible to create virtually anything without any need for manufacturing. Responding to the impact of technological change on society will be the major challenge for our age, made more difficult because the many transformations are invisible for most people.
The impact of the new socioeconomic systems on our climate at the local, regional and global levels.
Climate change is by far the greatest security threat that we face today. Although it has been identified as a profound danger for over twenty years, our economic system and our social and cultural institutions are incapable of formulating and implementing a response. We must understand how our current global economic and technological regime contributes to climate change and formulate concrete steps for adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change on a global scale.
The transformation of international relations by technological change, specifically changes in diplomacy, security, education, finance and trade.
Although we use the same terms to describe international relations that we employed 100 years ago, the nature of diplomacy, security and trade have been altered beyond recognition by technological change. Images, texts and videos can be transported around the world instantaneously, affecting a true “death of distance,” and increasingly they can be fabricated just as easily.
People and goods are transported with great ease as well over vast distances, and globalization has created enormous displaced populations. So also goods can be processed and shipped around the world in an entirely automated manner—part of the fourth industrial revolution. We must entirely rethink the concept of international relations in light of these TRANSFORMATIve changes, moving beyond a vague anxiety about globalization and rather identifying the distinct impact of technologies on international relations.
The rise of anti-intellectualism and the decline of the application of rigorous scientific approaches to analysis and problem solving, even in the midst of rapid technological evolution.
The world faces a terrible wave of anti-intellectualism, from climate change denial to racist essentialism, which undermines our ability to respond to the pressing issues of our age and encourages a self-indulgent attitude born of ignorance and indifference. This development is a product of the debasement of education into a commercial product and the resulting decline in the intellectual rigor in the media and other forms of expression. This new culture is inherently anti-science, even as it embraces glitzy technologies.
We must avoid emotional responses driven by technological bells and whistles, rather applying a rational scientific approach in policy, in technology and in strategy. We must avoid the anti-science, “bread and circuses” approach to political discourse that we see spreading around the world. Above all, intellectuals must have a strong social responsibility and should be treated as essential figures in society.
The problems we face today, from the environmental crisis to the increasing divide between the rich and poor, can only be solved by primarily initiating a profound contemplation within ourselves so as to cooperate for building more novel and sustainable solutions. Only when we have addressed the spiritual hunger and psychological insecurities that lead to unrestrained consumption, or ruthless conflict, can we begin find meaningful long-term answers. As Albert Einstein once remarked, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Our research and our endeavors take into account the underlying contradictions within ourselves that have brought about the crisis of this day.
Our Fukushima Initiative, for example, has built a global platform that brings together different forms of expertise from around the world so as to find a solution to the dangerous challenges posed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In the process we have created new approaches to collaboration in policy, technology, analysis and implementation. This discussion has also touched on the philosophical and spiritual challenges for us and future generations posed by rapid and disruptive technological change.
Finally, the Asia Institute is engaged in a dialog with stakeholders from across Asia concerning the future of Asia itself. We always have been debating on how Asia can move beyond traditional geopolitical rivalries and envision an Asia as a peaceful totality in which current integration provides new horizons. We have written concrete proposals for a security architecture built around the response to climate change; for a “constitution of information” to respond to the current crisis we faced as a result of the rapid change in the technology for communication and massive scale surveillance and for new systems to promote international collaboration; and P2P (peer to peer) cooperation throughout Asia and around the world that would encourage free interaction of the stakeholders to jointly produce knowledge and other forms of goods/services primarily for its ‘use value’ instead of its ‘market value’ to temper the ever widening economic gap and promote empowerment at the grass roots level. We have been in debates and discussions on how to incorporate the perspectives of experts from the Middle East or Southeast Asia to the debate on the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. We have also discussed on how ecologists, artists and philosophers can contribute meaningfully in the debate about trade, finance and other forms of integration.
The Asia Institute has conducted a wide range of programs on culture, society, international relations and security over the last seven years, but our focus rests on the impact of technology on society, the environmental crisis, the concerns of youth and women and the shifting nature of international relations and its implications for education, communications and business.
The Asia Institute is committed to promoting meaningful cooperation across the whole of Asia, and we are constantly looking for new opportunities for discussion. We possess in-depth experience and knowledge on Republic of Korea, Japan, the People’s Republic of China and the United States. In addition, we have conducted programs involving the nations of South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
We are not just committed to analysis and discussions; it is mainly about delivering a new vision for an integrated and peaceful Asia that is ecologically sustainable and contributes to global civilization through its innovative model of governance.
We believe in promoting meaningful long-term cooperation to respond to the challenges of our times. We have always brought together individuals and communities to work as a team that can appraise new issue, come up with creative and viable solutions and implement them around the world through robust networks. We, at The Asia Institute are dedicated to creating a new discursive space in which we can come to a consensus on common themes and bring together shareholders from across the Asian region.
The Asia Institute always involves the youth at every stage in its programs, giving them a chance to set our priorities, convey their concerns directly to policymakers and experts through our events and our reports, and to engage in a meaningful advocacy. It is a sad truth that although the expert has much to learn from the experiences of youth as youth have to learn from him, the dialog is inevitably one way. Moreover, we are building bridges across Asia that link youth with decision makers and experts.
Asia Institute has prepared reports for the Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), Korea Institute for Geoscience and Materials (KIGAM), Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety (KINS), Seoul National University and the Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science (KRISS). We have conducted seminars and prepared papers and held seminars for the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Unification Ministry (Korea) the University of Tsukuba, KAIST, ETRI (Electronic Telecommunication Research Institute), Yale University’s West Campus and other educational institutions, NGOs and government organizations.
The Asia Institute works with its senior researchers, senior associates and partner institutions to engage experts and stakeholders around the world as we examine critical current issues and suggest possible responses. Our research is aimed at producing accessible, objective evaluations and meaningful suggestions and proposals to policy makers and citizens. Our research takes the form of reports, presentations, articles, seminar and videos. Our research encompasses materials aimed at the specialist and explanations for generalists that assure that we can build a meaningful consensus about solutions. The position papers, white papers and short articles on contemporary issues produced by the Asia Institute are often translated into multiple languages to assure a wide readership in the decision-making process at the international and local level.
A new vision for Asia:
The Asia Institute believes that a different approach is required to resolve the long-standing problems that plague the most rapidly growing region in the world. Although Asia, and particularly Northeast Asia, is becoming the economic and intellectual center of the world, its immense potential is undercut by unjustified military build-ups, misconceived concepts of growth, ecological degradation, the misuse of technology and the decay of traditional cultures into thoughtless consumerism. The Asia Institute presents a vision of a greater Asia that can inspire our age.
The Asia Institute produces reports, proposals articles that are immediately relevant and that can be readily implemented at the local level. We strive to localize our ideas and engage in a deep dialog with both international and local stakeholders about how we can respond to global challenges. When we propose improved environmental standards in Vietnam, for example, we prepare materials in Vietnamese that government officials and local citizens can readily employ at the local level. We work with youth around the world and encourage them to cooperate with each other to address common issues as a team. Many of our proposals are both broad in implication and extremely concrete in terms of their implementation.
Multicultural & Multilingual
Although English, the lingua franca of Asia, is central for our work, the Asia Institute is a multilingual institution, conducting research and activities in multiple languages for multiple audiences. We imagine a future in which the major projects of the Asia Institute are conducted in multiple languages and produce our materials in multiple Asian and European languages.
We believe that policy makers can learn from youth and that youth must be involved in the policy debate at the local, national and global levels. The Asia Institute involves young people in all of our activities: as interns, as members of seminars, and as writers. Asia Institute Seminars allow youth to engage directly with leading figures in research, government and business. The Asia Institute believes that young people must have a voice in the debate about the future of Asia. Many of our seminars involve high school, college, graduate school students alongside professors and other professionals.
At the same time that the Asia Institute conducts seminars involving high-level officials and experts, we make sure that concerned individuals from the local and international community are involved in the debate. We believe that everyone has a right to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion.
Our long-term Commitment
The Asia Institute strives to make long-term commitments to working with institutions and communities across Asia to build a better tomorrow. We are not interested in short-term, high-profile, solutions that are not sustainable. We believe and are quite aware that the responses regarding the environment, energy and technology will take decades or centuries. Moreover, moving the world’s economies towards more sustainable projects need to be measured in decades and is envisaged to bring new stability to a global economy devastated by the ongoing financial and moral crises.
New Paradigms of Collaboration
The Asia Institute is committed to creating new paradigms for international cooperation. We build alliances between NGOs, research institutes, governments and businesses across Asia, encourage interaction between people in different Asian nations, and explore new approaches to bringing together stakeholders. We are exploring the potential of the Internet to foster cooperation between local groups across the globe.
Positive Use of Technology
The rapid development of new technologies that go beyond the capability of human society to rapidly adapt is one of the greatest challenges of our age. The Asia Institute is committed to finding positive uses for new technologies and honestly addressing negative implications of such technologies.
Welcome from the Director
The Asia Institute is a think tank designed for a new age of open interaction and exchange between parties around the world who share their wisdom to address the challenges of our time in a comprehensive and inclusive manner. Everyone is invited to join the Asia Institute and make proposals regarding our direction and our focus. We are not in the business of dispensing wisdom from an “advanced” West to a “developing” Asia. We are leading a balanced and equal dialog about the future of humanity.
The Asia Institute actively seeks out the opinions and support of individuals and institutions across Asia and the world about issues like climate change, the rapid evolution of technology and the changing nature of international relations in an age of social networks and integrated manufacturing and logistics.
Over the last ten years the Asia Institute has created a new space for honest discussion and mutually beneficial research that has included projects with Tsukuba University and its 3E Forum, the Korea Science and Technology Policy Institute, the Japan National Institute of Environmental Studies, Georgia Tech, the Korea Research Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology, the National Nanofabrication Center, KAIST, Seoul National University’s Advanced Institutes of Convergence Technology, Ecocity Builders, the Korea Institute of Geosciences and Materials, Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science, Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations, Foreign Policy in Focus, the P2P Foundation and the International Centre for Earth Simulation. Our conferences, seminars, policy reports, research papers, articles have appeared in multiple languages.
We launched the Asia Institute in 2007 in response to the need for a space for stakeholders across Asia to come together and exchange opinions about the long-term implications of social and technological change in this age of unprecedented integration across Asia as a result of growing trade and rapidly and mutually dependent technological progress.
We felt that we desperately need sophisticated and robust fabric of personal relations and collaboration in research, governance and policy to complement this integration in terms of logistics and energy supplies.
The Asia Institute organized the Daejeon meeting (12th plenary) of the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia (LNWFZ-NEA) in October, 2008, the culmination of a comprehensive effort to create a secure East Asia through frank discussions between specialists and government officials about a nuclear free zone. The LNWFZ-NEA meeting brought together scholars, ambassadors and generals from around the world for a frank discussion of a concrete and practical proposal to limit nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia. Attendees included former US assistant secretary of state Robert Gallucci.
Addressing the environmental crisis has been a high priority at the Asia Institute. We launched the Daejeon Environment Forumin 2008 that brought together researchers from across Korea’s Daedeok research cluster to discuss how their efforts can be combined to develop robust and sustainable technologies. Daejeon Metropolitan City officially endorsed the Daejeon Environment Forum and we successfully ran the program jointly for two years. A team from the Forum visited Washington D.C. and KAIST Vice President Yang Jiwon at CSIS about the forum’s work. The forum also established relations with the cities of Tsukuba and Palo Alto and Tsukuba University and Stanford University for collaborations in environmental technologies.
The Asia Institute collaborated with Tsukuba University to establish the International 3E (Environment, Energy, Economy) Forum to hold forums in Daejeon (May, 2009) and Shenzhen (July, 2009) that brought together experts from China, Japan and Korea. A 3E International Café was held in Korea in August 2009, bringing together youth to discuss climate change and the potential for global cooperation. Students from Japan, China, Korea and other nations visited research institutes such as KRIBB, KIER and KAIST to speak with experts and held their own seminars in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme.
The Asia Institute also drafted a proposal for an alliance of eco cities that was widely distributed in multiple languages and received a positive response in Palo Alto, Tsukuba, Japan, and Shenzhen China. A proposal made by myself and John Feffer to rebuild the city of Wenchuan as a model eco city after it was damaged by an earthquake was translated into Chinese and published by China News.
The Asia Institute strives to promote cooperation in science and technology between the nations of Asia, leading the negotiations for an MOU for cooperation in nanofabrication between Korea’s National Nano Fabrication Center (one of the world’s leading research facilities) and the Indian Nano Consortium. We organized with the Indo-Korea Business Forum the conference “New Opportunities in Science Collaboration between Korea and India” (January, 2010), an event that brought together Korean and Indian experts, and promoted closer cooperation between the two countries. Similar events have been held together with research institutes from the United States, Finland, Germany, Japan and China.
The Asia Institute has undertaken a series of large-scale research projects with major Korean government research institutes. The major projects are as follows:
A study of the Hell Chosun phenomenon with the Korean Economic Research Institute in 2017.
A study of the global collaboration in biomedicine for Seoul National University and a study on Korea’s leadership role with regards to women in science for WISET (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology) in 2012-2013.
A study of paradigms for international collaboration between the United States and Korea for Seoul National University’s AICT (Advanced Institutes of Convergence Technology) in 2012.
Two research projects on technology convergence on a global scale for KRISS (Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science) in 2012.
A study of nuclear power in Southeast Asia with KINS (Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety) in 2011.
A study of carbon-capture technology and its potential for KIGAM (Korea Institute for Geoscience and Materials) in 2010.
Two studies of international collaboration strategies for biotechnology for KRIBB (Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology) in 2008-2009.
The Asia Institute launched the Convergence Technology Program in July 2010 as a response to a request from the Korea Industry Convergence Association. I was also appointed an advisor to the Korea Industry Convergence Association in October 2010; as a result, the Asia Institute has been involved in discussions concerning international cooperation in convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology & information technology. We launched the Global Convergence Forum together with the Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science in December, 2010 and have held numerous seminars and published several major papers. We undertook a study of international collaboration in convergence technology together with Seoul National University’s Advanced Institutes of Convergence Technology that included close collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We have also worked with Business Korea Magazine and Google Korea to develop a continuing seminar series on ICT in Korea and its future potential.
The Asia Institute is currently conducting a series of seminars (many of which are held in Chinese) concerning China’s new global role. These discussions have resulted in multiple articles and will be summarized in a forthcoming book in Chinese.
We also support an on-going discussion about the conditions for unification of the Korean Peninsula that brings together experts from international relations, security, business and the humanities for a series of seminars co-hosted with the Arirang Institute on the economic, social and security dimensions of Korean unification for East Asia.
More recently we have had a series of seminars and research projects concerning Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that have resulted in an Asia Institute white paper on the future of information and global governance that recommends a “Constitution of Information.” The proposal was summarized in an article in the Huffington Post and also presented at a conference sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning that featured myself and the world renowned expert on Singularity, Ray Kurzweil, who also is the director of engineering at Google. More recently, the Asia Institute has considered how social networks can be the platform for next-generation global governance.
The environmental crisis posed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has been the focus of an on-going research project at the Asia Institute involving over thirty experts and multiple seminars involving both those on site in Japan and concerned citizens around the world. As a part of the project, an article was published by the Foreign Policy in Focus think tank. The article was one of the highly ranked top-ten articles for 2013 and further recommendations will be elaborated in a white paper to be released in June of 2014.
“The acceleration of technological change has rendered our culture fluid at the same time climate change raises questions about our basic assumptions concerning the future and invalidates the myths and perceptions we have had about ourselves, our needs and aspirations and the functioning of the World around us. Logistics, communications and supercomputers, perforce, are bringing us together far faster than we can build the human networks necessary for a global common society, especially in Asia. Therefore, we are charged with the task that comes once in six-hundred years: that is creating new institutions for sustaining the future of our humanity.”