Como oito estudantes trouxeram políticos para debater em um país dividido pela política

Na graduação, eu fiz o curso de Ciências Moleculares na USP. Naquela época, a grande polarização política que existe no país agora (2018) estava ficando mais e mais clara e  ela podia ser vista dentro e fora da universidade. Dentro da universidade,  eu não conhecia um grupo onde a discussão fosse baseada em evidências e percebi que eu, como muito dos outros estudantes,  não estava preparado para discutir política e não sabia da extensão das conseqüências da polarização política.

Eu lembro de uma amiga dizendo  que estava andando na rua e então empurraram e cuspiram nela porque ela estava usando um broche de um partido tal. Eu também tinha visto algumas dicussões dos estudantes, mas elas duravam horas e horas e muitas vezes só quem ficava até o final podia votar. Normalmente, essas dicusssões não eram estruturadas e a diversidade de opiniões era baixa, mesmo assim as pessoas sempre discordavam. Algumas boas ideias não eram muito bem expressas e eram ostracizadas, enquanto alguma ideias ruins eram levadas adiante.

E, mesmo insatisfeito, eu não me via como uma pessoa bem informada o suficiente para tomar decisões sorbe coisas importantes que estavam acontecendo na universidade e no país. Isso era extremamente preocupante, e eu vi que os outros alunos também não tinham um método para coletar informações de diferentes fontes, analisá-las e tomar decisões com segurança suficiente para questionar os outros estudantes e eles mesmos.

Então, conheci um grupo que estava tentando iniciar um grupo de debate na universidade.

No Brasil, esse tipo de grupo não era muito conhecido. O fundador do grupo na universidade foi Henrique Vitta, que se deparou por acaso com grupos de debate de outras universidades que foram criados um pouco antes. Vitta estava fazendo Ciências Contábeis e foi presidente da FEA Junior, uma das poucas empresas no Brasil administradas por graduandos com um lucro anual de mais de R $ 1 milhão. A ideia de introduzir debates nas universidades brasileiras foi originada da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC), e em seguida da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG).

No início, o grupo de debate na universidade era pequeno, muitas pessoas vinham em uma das reuniões que tinha um tema interessante, mas depois não voltavam para as outras reuniões. Como não éramos um grupo oficial da universidade, tínhamos que pagar todas as despesas com nosso próprio dinheiro e fazíamos reuniões em espaços abertos, porque não podíamos reservar uma sala na universidade. Um professor de filosofia contactado pelo Henrique, o professor Cícero de Araújo, ajudou a lidar com as formalidades. Então, viramos um projeto oficial da universidade. Isso facilitou a utilização de salas no campus, mas os nossos recursos ainda eram extremamente limitados.

 

Resultado de imagem para fau usp

A Faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade de São Paulo, onde o USP | Debate iniciou as reuniões. Não podíamos reservar salas da universidade, por isso usávamos o espaço aberto do prédio. O local era aberto e movimentado, por isso as reuniões eram muitas vezes interrompidas.

Por mais de um ano, tentamos reunir mais e mais pessoas, indo às salas de aula e convidando os novos alunos. Mas os alunos, como esperado, nunca ouviram falar de debate competitivo. E, assim que explicávamos o que era o debate competitivo,  os alunos demonstravam deconfiança.  Eu imagino que parte disso é porcausa da forma como o debate era mostrado na televisão.  Além disso,  nós usávamos um modelo de debate em que as pessoas são estimuladas a fazer  exercício de defender uma opinião oposta àquila em que elas acreditam. E isso é um desconforto tamnho que a maioria das pessoas relutava em tentar. Quando eu fui para as salas de aula, as pessoas sussurravam: “Deus me livre, alguém me ouça defendendo o político XXX” ou “Como eles podem decidir quem ganha o debate. É sempre subjetivo! ”.

Quando esse tipo de coisa acontecia, eu tentava explicar que a nós não defendíamos ideias que vão contra  princípios éticos, e que nós só discutíamos ideias que tinham prós e contras razoáveis. E que existem maneiras objetivas de avaliar a qualidade de um debate. De qualquer forma, nós tivemos que lutar contra o padrão que os políticos definiram sobre o que era o debate.

Com o passar dos meses, nosso grupo estava ficando cada vez menor. Tivemos boas pessoas chegando, como Bianca Checon, aluna de doutorado, que no futuro seria a nova presidente do USP | Debate. Mas , pelo baixo número de gente participando e a frustração que isso causava, houve uma disputa entre os 3 fundadores do grupo. “Onde é que a gente errou em trazer pessoas?”. As acusações começaram e os fundadores da USP | Debate se dividiram em dois.

Henrique Vitta continuou a liderar um dos grupos, mas durante muito tempo o projeto pareceu fadado ao fracasso. Nós  não só tínhamos dois grupos, mas tínhamos dois grupos que competiam para se chamar USP | Debate. Com o passar do tempo, um dos grupos se dissolveu e o USP | Debate recomeçou com novas pessoas.  Mas até aí tínhamos perdido quase todo o progresso que feito até então, já que muitas pessoas saíram por causa do ambiente de conflito. Eu me lembro que às vezes nós tínhamos reuniões com 2 ou 3 pessoas, mas eu sempre pensava nas reuniões como uma sessão de estudo, então  continuei indo, apesar de estar desapontado com o que o USP | Debate poderia ter sido.

Com mais trabalho de divulgação, reunimos um núcleo de 8 pessoas que sempre vinham às reuniões: Henrique Vitta, Bianca Checon, Felipe Bragança, Lucas Silva, Bruno Fochesato, Renato Bispo, Gabriel Vieira e eu (Marcos Masukawa).

Resultado de imagem para biblioteca brasiliana

Depois da Faculdade de Arquitetura, as reuniões do USP | Debate foram realizadas na Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin. Henrique Vitta e Bianca Checon conseguiram uma sala no subsolo. O prédio era ótimo, e a gente encontrou um lugar perfeito para nossas reuniões. Mas as pessoas ainda não estavam vindo.

Um dia, do nada, Henrique Vitta propôs que nós fizessemos um debate com os candidatos a prefeito de São Paulo

A ideia parecia absurda, nós não conseguíamos a nem trazer alunos para o nosso grupo! Como é que nós íamos convencer os políticos mais importantes do país a vir? Além disso, Henrique Vitta, que liderava o debate da USP até esse momento, teve que sair para trabalhar para o outro lado do país. Seríamos apenas 7 de nós.

Ainda assim, acabamos acreditando na ideia, ou como Bruno diria mais tarde, “a gente fingiu que acreditou”. O Henrique nos convenceu  dizendo: Se não der certo, não deu, mas se desse, seria um jeito de chamar a atenção do reitor,  conseguir um bom espaço para nossas reuniões, talvez um pouco de dinheiro para viajar para competir. E, mais importante, mostrar que os políticos também podiam ter um debate produtivo se nós estabelecessemos um ambiente para a conversa.

Só a Bianca e eu éramos membros “originais” do grupo. Antes da partida de Vitta, nós três decidimos que Bianca deveria ser a presidente do grupo e essa foi a decisão certa. Com os novos membros, a gente decidiu chamar nosso debate com os candidatos de “Jornada eleitoral”. Mas o evento ainda parecia completamente inviável. Então, nós tivemos a ideia de tentar uma parceria com a rádio universitária, a Rádio USP. Dessa forma,  poderíamos usar o fato de que a Rádio USP era uma instituição oficial da Universidade e poderíamos fazer reserva de espaços, além disso, o áudio do debate com os candidatos ia ser profissionalmente gravado e transmitido, tornando o evento mais atraente para os candidatos.

O Prof. Cícero nos ajudou  a conseguir a reunião com a Rádio USP. Depois da reunião, foi decidido que eles perguntariam aos advogados da universidade se tudo bem com o evento. Nós não tínhamos pensando nisso até então, mas as leis sobre campanha eleitoral são extremamente rígidas e nós não sabíamos muito sobre elas.

Os advogados nos disseram que o que queríamos era possível com uma condição

Nosso plano original era trazer 4 ou 5 candidatos para um debate semelhante ao da televisão, mas isso não era permitido porque significaria que estávamos usando os recursos públicos para favorecer alguns dos candidatos. Mas os advogados também disseram que, se nós convidássemos todos os candidatos, não seria um problema. No entanto, isso significava que precisávamos inventar um formato de debate completamente novo. Um debate com um número tão grande de candidatos nunca tinha sido feito na televisão ou no rádio. E tínhamos de fazer isso de uma maneira justa de acordo com a lei … ou correr o risco de um processo. Então, decidimos que íamos chamar todo os candiatos mesmo. E com isso saímos correndo para a maratona de chamar todos os 11 candidatos.

Essa maratona ia durar 2 meses. Nós começamos a chamar os candidatos e no começo fomos ignroados.  O Bruno Fochesato, o Lucas Silva e a Bianca Checon foram responsáveis ​​por chamar os grupos de PR dos candidatos. O trabalho foi exaustivo e eles tiveram que fazer ligações e enviar e-mails por meses sem parar até horas antes do dia para que o maior número de candidatos viesse. De acordo com o que osadvogados disseram, se o candidato se recusasse, a gente ainda podia realiza o evento, mas precisava de um documento oficial para provar que o candidato não estava disposto a comparecer, o que também foi difícil de conseguir com alguns candidatos. Além disso, precisávamos sortear o horário dos candiatos para não favorecer um ou outro.

Por causa da Radio USP, conseguimos reservar o melhor auditório da Universidade, o Centro de Difusão Internacional. Mas isso foi apenas uma parte do desafio. Nos meses antes  do evento, tivemos de fazer  panfletos, cartazes, enviar e-mails, telefonar, colar cartazes em todo o campus, planejar cada passo do grande dia do debate em um formato que nunca foi feito na TV ou no rádio. Sem esquecer que  ainda éramos estudantes e tínhamos que assistir às aulas e fazer provas enquanto isso.

Para mim, grande parte do meu sofrimento veio do fato que eu tinha de arrumar o coffee break para os candidatos. Liguei para umas 50 empresas que poderiam  oferecer o coffee break de graça, porque  não tínhamos verba. Mas, neste momento, a crise econômica já estava bem ruim e eu tive que ouvir um NÃO de todas as empresas que eu liguei e visitei. Isso foi frustrante. Para piorar nosso estresse, também descobrimos que a Rádio USP estava usando o nome que nós criamos para o nosso evento – Jornada eleitoral  – para outros eventos que eles estavam organizando  sem nos consultar! O sangue ferveu um pouco quando faltou dar crédito ao USP debate. Ainda assim, tivemos que comunicar nosso desconforto sem colocar em risco toda a parceria e decidimos fazer isso depois do evento.

Os últimos preparativos para o debate dos candidatos às eleições municipais de São Paulo.

Alguém viria?

Depois de ter feito tudo isso, nós nunca, em mil anos, imaginaríamos que o auditório enorme ia estar vazio. Os eventos com os políticos nos departmentos sempre estavam lotados.  Além disso, fizemos centenas de pôsteres e panfletos e os colamos em todos os institutos do campus.

Bruno e eu pegamos panfletos e fomos para o refeitório porque é onde esperávamos encontrar mais pessoas. Nós demos panfletos e gritamos (literalmente) sobre o evento até que tivemos que voltar porque o evento estava prestes a começar.

Pessoas chegando no evento. Foto: Cecília Bastos/USP Imagens.

 

Foi perfeito.

Provavelmente não  perfeito, mas não me lembro de qualquer problema muito grave. Nós estávamos preocupados que alguns dos candidatos seriam defensivos ou que as perguntas dos estudantes seriam má-educadas, mas isso não aconteceu. Eu acho que porque nós tratamos todos de forma justa, os pequenos e grandes políticos, e deixamos claro que era um jogo justo, que todos foram gratos e respeitosos. O reitor da  também veio com uma confirmação de última hora e fez um discurso. No final de cada palestra, os candidatos receberam um peso de papel acrílico do USP | Debate que eu tinha feito à mão, um a um, na noite anterior. Então, o evento terminou e sentimos uma sensação de alívio que incomparável. Nós estávamos extremamente orgulhosos.

Nós gastamos nosso próprio dinheiro no evento e fizemos algo que teria levado uma empresa inteira e provavelmente milhares de reais. E apenas 8 pessoas fizeram isso. Eu ainda fico espantado em como conseguimos reunir os candidatos neste prédio, gravar a voz deles e transmitir pra todo o estado. E ainda assim, não tínhamos dinheiro para servir café pro prefeito de São Paulo. PS: ele era candidato pro segundo mandato e veio para o evento. PPS: Ele pediu um café.

O grupo da USP | Debate que organizou a Jornada Eleitoral. Felipe, Gabriel, eu, Bianca, Lucas, Renato, Bruno da esquerda para a direita. Henrique não está na foto. Imagem: Cecília Bastos / USP Imagens

O autógrafo dos candidatos que vieram ao Debate.

Alguns dias depois de estarmos nas nuvens, percebemos que ainda havia muito a fazer. O evento não significava que o USP | Debate seria bem sucedido de um dia para o outro. E na época estávamos tão exaustos com o evento que não usamos todos os contatos e mídia que poderíamos ter usado logo depois do evento. Eu tive que sair do Brasil e logo outros membros estavam saindo e novos estavam chegando. O debate da USP ainda tinha muito trabalho a fazer para se tornar um nome de uma instituição na universidade, mas eu  tive a sensação de que nós redefinimos o que um grupo de debate pode fazer. O grupo de debate da USP é ainda menor do que outros grupos de debates no Brasil, mas eu vi que ele ganhou nova vitalidade recentement e espero que ele cresça logo ao ponto de podermos organizar o debate presidencial um dia.

 

Coisas que fizemos bem na primeira tentativa

  • Estabelecer uma parceria com instituições da universidade, a Rádio USP e o jornal da USP,  que nos forneceram suporte legal e institucional
  • Estabelecer um contato amigável com o PR dos políticos
  • Estabelecer prazos rigorosos e reuniões com objetivos
  • Fazer uma identidade visual consistente para o evento (cartazes, panfletos, cenários, lembranças) e garantir que nossa marca USP | Debate fosse visível
  • Organizar o evento com limitações e custo ultrabaixo

Coisas que devemos melhorar para um próximo evento

  • Garantir o apoio financeiro da universidade em um estágio inicial
  • Usar outras abordagens de marketing para que mais pessoas participassem do evento
  • Durante o evento, usar qualquer alavanca possível (sem ser importuno ou persistente) com o reitor e outras pessoas da universidade para garantir mais recursos e espaço para o projeto e para os próximos eventos

Links

Web site USP | Debate

Links sobre o evento

Entrevistas com os candidatos (Youtube)

 

Autobiography of Viscount of Mauá, Brazilian industrialist and banker

Exposition to the creditors of the Viscount of Maua & Co. and to the public

Viscount of Mauá, Brazilian industrialist and banker

Born in 1813, he was one of the most important industrialists and bankers of South America. He build the first iron foundry, shipyard and rail road in Brazil. He started to explore the transport using the Amazonas and Guaíba rivers with steam boats and installed the first public illumination system in Rio de Janeiro. He also installed the first telegraphic cable between South America and Europe and created the longest rail road connecting South American countries. He  opposed the traffic of slaves and defended Brazil could only prosper with free workers and investment in technology. He was the owner of 8 of the 10 largest companies in Brazil at his time and had 17 companies in 7 countries, including some of the largest banks in South America. It is estimated that his fortune would be the equivalent of US$60 billion today.  By the end of his life, he had lost most of his fortune, writing his Biography “Exposition to the creditors of the Viscount of Maua & Co. and to the public” as a way to explain to his creditors the events which led him to bankruptcy. The following is a translation of the introduction of his autobiographic book. 

Exposition

In the spring of life I had already obtained, through honest and relentless work, a fortune that could assure me the utmost independence.

One of the best kind of humanities was represented by an English trader who distinguished himself by the old school of positive morality. After sufficient proofs of myself in service, he chose me as the Partner manager of his company, when I was still immature, putting me, so early, in the commercial career, in a position to develop the elements that by chance nested in my spirit. Twenty years of activity without rest would be enough to assure me an yearly income of 50 contos [1] , not counting the time necessary to recover the lost strength drought from continuously dealing with those matters. Had it been the capital employed in the well guaranteed titles of our country, the liquidation of the transaction of a strong import and export commerce whose activity is central to myself, besides the portion due to the other partners.

Such was my position in the occasion that I refer to, that 32 years had been gone. Up to now it was not necessary to have ink in my fingers to write any special petition to the any representative of administrative authority of my country.

One can see that entering another activity, I had satisfactory fortune – and it invited me to enjoy it.

In my spirit there was a vivid war between SELFISHNESS, that inhabits human heart in smaller and larger doses, and the generous ideas that elevate us and take us to other destinations, being the idea of having an ENORMOUS fortune, a secondary question in my spirit, I can say gladly, with my hand in my conscience and the eyes on God.

It is not necessary to say I committed a mistake, a gross mistake that you, creditors of the Maua Bank & Co., have carried with me, the consequences of the mistake I committed when I chose a new life of activity never seen before in our land, very rare in other countries, where other elements will help the efforts of a vigorous individual initiative, that I assert it was the dominant thought in my actions, taking all the others considerations much below this level.

One had the right to be believed in the bitterest hour of existence, when aspirations where destroyed by the machine gun of misfortune, when reality imposes its authority, putting apart the mind and its illusions; when a philosophical spirit (in the true sense of the word), guided by clear reasons to appreciate what is the worth and purpose of Earthly house, in the winter of life, measures with cold blood the short space that lies between the present and the future-so-close, that one excludes the appreciation of what the future can give to him.

It is not in this solemn hour, when the victim of a great and undeserved misfortune comes to give explanations for those who have the right to request them, that I would remember to do a false narration of the facts with which is my due occupy your attention, when the truth, anyway, had been the shield in all the vicissitudes of a long life. In this new sphere of work, that the force of destiny brought me into, I had my share to intervene and make true many and important things. It is not for sure the fatuity, that would be in truth ridicule regarding the circumstances where I see myself, that induced me to record the services rendered to the country and obliges me to begin to appreciate some of the actions in which I was instrument, ignoring some that could yet appear in advantage, given that they will indirectly take a role in the financial and economic life of Brazil; I limit myself to those of public notoriety, teasing openly any contentiousness, with the goal of thoroughly replying to the impugners, while the cold board doesn’t cover the tired remains that wrap the soul of a being, who during his entire life had one fixed point as his entire aspiration – to do what is good – and that taken from the position where he did so, sees himself thrown to trial! The explanation of reasons that could have influenced the disaster, that I consider large, because I am not the only one who suffers, and the interest of third parties touch the bottom of my soul.

In those circumstances, the explanation is at the same time a right and a must. I know not all of these commitments will have a favorable output, but to let know the causes that matter is another right and another duty, because I intend to be judged by the true truth and not by the interpretations of the obloquy.

In the advanced age of myself, in the presence of the happenings that motivate this exposition, realized by the way it was resolved, I can not have another goal in sight other than save from shipwreck what for me is worth more gold than what has been taken from the mines in California – a clean name, because I persist in believing that misfortune is not a crime.

Among the companies I created and those that existed because of my efforts and aid – as well as some services of great importance and people who based themselves in my credit and on the resources of the house of Maua in the second half of my life, that began 32 years ago, not all had favourable outputs, and the history of those that I will deal with here will prove that.

As much as I can record in a moment of such torment, the chronological march of facts that I refer to happened as follows:

• Estabilishment of the Ponta d’Areia [2]
• Company of tugboats for the Rio-Grande bay
• Company of gas illumination of Rio de Janeiro
• Services to the imperial government in Rio da Prata, requested by the ministers
• Fluminense Company of transports
• Bank of Brazil (before the current one)
• Company of the railroad of Petropolis
• Company of steamboats of Amazon
• Services to the organization of the Pernambuco railroad in London
• Services to the railroad in Bahia
• Company of floating dykes
• Company of tannery
• Company Luz Estearica
• Montes Aureos Brazilian gold mining company
• Railroad from Santos to Jundiai
• Services to the Company D. Pedro II railroad
• Services to the Tijuca railroad
• Botanical Garden’s, Rail Road Cy.
• Exploration of the railroad between Parana and Mato Grosso
• Submarine cable [3]
• Water supply to the capital of the Empire
• Rio-verde railroad
• The bank of Maua & C. and its ramifications inside and outside the country
• Services to the agriculture

This list is not complete, also, I did not include less direct services to the efforts of others in the material improvements of the country, which would be long to enumerate.

The facts I will analyze constitute, therefore, a part of a large set of practices during 32 years, that happened after I let myself be carried by the idea that the public well and the advancement of the country had priority. The need to enter in this now, although they are not favourable to the intellectual exercises of the anguish moments that I face, is throbbing; the mere naming of the facts in order explains nothing, because what matters is to highlight the impact of these facts in the finances of the House of Maua, for good or for bad, so that they are the counter proof that will make disappear the unfair impressions that the malevolence, who has followed me for many years, could have created.

My intention is not to expose the services rendered, but to establish the veracity of the facts, explaining vividly and allowing my unjustified enemies to understand the seriousness of their conduct, or, if they continue on their unfruitful purposes, so that they can claim any of these facts are untrue.

1) Money of the time in Brazil, 1 conto was roughly equivalent to 1 Kg of gold
2) Shipyward.
3) Between Europe and Brazil.

Leadership #5 – How facebook manages multicultural teams

This week we had a lecture from an engineer that works at Facebook, Ming Dung Mi.

He came from Vietnan and explained how it was to leave a country after the war to come to Japan to study.

In his words, it was like advancing 100 years into the future. In japan, he graduated and entered a japanese media company, later leaving for facebook.

He talked about some of the training facebook provides to the new employees and which tools the company uses to manage multicultural teams. Mi said it is important to know your strengths and to share your strength to others so they know how you can help. Also, strengths are not static and you should periodically review them.

One of the most interesting topic was the software tools used by technology companies to manage their team work. In the software, it is possible to see previous projects of your team members, code they wrote and other relevant information. Knowing this information in advance, the team can prepare to deal with the strengths and limitations of each member.

Leadership #3 – Work in group experience

One of the occasions when I was proud to be in a team was when we organized a Festival called Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival) in Brazil.

Every year in São Paulo the Association of Brazilian students in Japan (Associação de ex-bolsistas – Asebex) organizes a course for the the students who are going to come to Japan. The course lasts for about one month and in the course we learn the basic of the language, culture and manners. Many of the students who go to Japan are Nikkei, that is, of Japanese origin, so maybe the main purpose of the course is so that all the students who are going to Japan in that year know each other and connect by the activities. The name of this course is Koshukai and usually 100~150 students join every year.

Usually the the last activity of the Koushokai training is to organize a festival. Because it occured during summer in Brazil. it was called Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival). Usually this Festival is organized so people at Koshukai can work in group and to collect money for the students who are going to Japan. Usually this money is reserved for the students who suffer accidents. For example, once it was used to pay for the expenses of a Brazilian student who was run over by a car. But, if the money is not used after a year, we use it for a trip with everyone in Japan.

However, on that Koshukai, the president of Asebex, Martino Musumeci, told us that in the two previous years the organization of the event caused serious (unfriendly ) disagreements between the students because of the pressure to organize such a big event. This invalidates the main point of Koshukai, which is the students to meet each other. Because of that, Martino asked us if instead of organizing the festival we would not prefer to organize a charity effort to one of the Japanese charities in São Paulo.

  • Ikoi no sono (the garden of rest)
    • In 1911 a Japanese girl with 11 years old from the South of Japan  decided to immigrate alone to Brazil to work and bring money to her father, who went bankrupt. She changed her name to Margarida and started to work and send money to back home. Then, the war emerged and many Japanese were arrested, deported and had their money confiscated. Then, she started to work to help those who had lost everything because of the war and founded Ikoi no sono. With time, the charity started to focus on debilitated elderly people.
  • Kodomo no sono (the garden for children)
    • In the 60’s, a buddhist monk named Ryoshin Hasegawa came to São Paulo to found a temple called Nippakuji. When he met the Nikkei community, he was disheartened at how the children with mental disorders and intelectual limitations were treated and how much the family of these children suffered. Then, in the japanese language school inside the temple, he started to take care of 13 children and founded Kodomo no sono.
  • Kibo no ie (the house of hope)
    • Koko Ichikawa was a nurse who helped her father in a store in a the post-war Japan. Then, in 1954 she got a job to work at an institution in Japan that treated people with intelectual limitations, Fujjikura Gakuen. After four years, she was invited to join the temple Jodo Shinshu in Brazil, where people work working in rehabilitation. But then she was transfered to Nippakuji, where they were building a department for children with intelctual limitations. This would become Kodomo no sono. After four years, Koko decided she wanted to make her own foundation and started to host children at her own house.
At this point I never had heard of these institutions, a fact I regret. But at that moment, when he briefly presented the alternative to the Natsu Matsuri, to my surprise, everyone said they wanted to do both: the Summer festival AND the charity activities. It seemed overwhelming, but I remained silent with my surprise. Martino told us to talk and decide, since his advise was precisely that the organization of the Summer Festival was enough pressure to put people apart instead of bringing them together.

But the opinion of the group was the same, they wanted to do both. Then, the older students of Asebex presented the departments required to organize the event (Finance, entertainment, marketing, etc.) and this year we had the department “Social activities”. I volunteered as the person responsible for this department. But in fact, the groups were small and there were no clear leaders.

We, from the “Social activities” department were responsible for organizing the trip to visit the entities. At this point Martino has already asked the institutions how we could help. Some of them just said the patients would like our visit and company, while others gave very specific directions of what they would like to do and how we could help. So the first dilemma is: if with have limited time and resources, how to choose which one to help?

We decided we would visit all of them and the “Social activities” group organized the visits and entertainment session presentations for the patients of the charities.

It was incredible. On all the visits we were received by the workers and volunteers of the charities and had a day of activities and explanations which I felt were more crafted for our learning than anything else. There are two clear moments that I remember from the visits:

  • The quality of the ceramics at Kodomo no sono
    • One of them was in Kodomo no sono. They showed us their ceramic therapy. This was started when a japanese artist visited the institution and taught the patients how to do ceramics. Then, they received the equipment to ceramic manufacture and started a therapeutic classes to do ceramics. When I saw the ceramics they did, I had no words and I felt mostly anger (for reasons I will explain). I would remember Kodomo no sono many years later when I was in Japan. Here, I visited the capital of ceramics, a city called Mashiko, which has more than 300 potteries and I observed the quality and beauty of the Japanese ceramics. Japan is famous for a style of art  which is called wabi sabi, which is an aesthetics based in intransience and imperfection. In wabi sabi ceramics, for example, the objects are not made to be perfect and they are all different from each other. And, despite looking easy, when I visited Mashiko I was told that when they learn to make ceramics, it takes 3 years only to learn how to prepare the clay, before even starting to model it. When I was in Mashiko, I remember of Kodomo no sono because the most precious pieces of wabi sabi ceramics with extravagant prices were only to match the ones I had seen at Kodomo no sono. The Kodomo no sono ceramics were in their essence wabi sabi. And even when I saw the Kodomo no sono ceramics at the first time I had a sentiment of how unfair it was that they were sold below the market price and that not many people had seen them. And even today I didn’t find pictures in the internet to put here. I believe that is because the ceramics are only produced during their therapeutic sessions, so there are not so many of them.
  • The Margarida museum at Ikoi no sono
    • At Ikoi no sono we had to give a walk with the patients pushing their wheelchairs around the place. When it ended, we had some time. There was this place they didn’t show to us which was a room with memories and pictures of Margarida. I was impressed on how brave and determined she was from such a young age.
So, the visits were successful, but they were not to that hard to organize and we still didn’t translate that into any actual benefit for the institutions.

Then, we decided that in the event, we would do a bingo game and reserve part of the money to the charities and split it equally so they could decide how to use it. Also, we would reserve spaces in the event so that the institutions could sell things if they wanted.

On the day of the event, we all cleaned, cooked, entertained and a few hundred people came to our event. After all the work to organize it, it was a huge success. And we didn’t fight with each other. We got more money than we expected and we could contribute to the charities. We also showed a video of our visited to the charities and explained bout our visits.

One thing that saddened me is that the charities that brought things to sell brought mostly handcraft from the patients and it didn’t sell. Ikoi no sono also brought the ceramics to sell, all the way from their workshop, but it almost didn’t sell also. I bought a cup that I gave to my mother.

Leadership #4 – Unconscious bias

Ways that unconscious and hidden bias / stereotypes impact my behavior as a student

The problem with stereotypes is that they are a weird mixture of information we collect and select without being entirely aware. Also, for the stereotypes it is essential to be a concept of “me” and “the others”.

As a student in an university that is becoming increasingly more international, I believe most stereotypes that have an impact on my life are based on nationality, which is assumed by appearance.

It is hard to pinpoint how these stereotypes affect our lives, since we can only identify those are stereotypes after being confronted by information that shows our thoughts and actions were influences by stereotypes.

For me, stereotypes are models we make in our had based on the attributes of certain characteristics to groups. I believe one of the big problems of stereotypes is that these groups are incredibly flexible and sometimes another person is part of a group identify as mine or as a distinct group. For example, in south america Argentinians and Brazilians have an amicable tension based on competition, but in a foreign country it is likely they will realize they are very similar in a broader context.

Because it is easy to confuse stereotypes, it is hard to tell to which extent our stereotypes affect our lives. It gets worse when we reinforce stereotypes with personal experiences, making it harder for us to really know and understand the person of thing that fits the stereotype we carry.

I think that the stereotype that has been affecting me the most is to try to engage only with people who I believe will understand my western cultural background and who will have no language barriers to speak with me. In this case, this has caused me to try harder to communicate with people and I believe there is a lot I might have missed because of this.

Should I join a hiking club in Japan?

For example, I like hiking and there is a hiking club in Tokyo Tech. For my cultural background, a club should be a fun activity that you are free to join when you have interest and that there should not be a strong compromise. However, I have the stereotype that clubs in the universities in Japan are very strict and that once you join the club you can not miss the meeting and activities. I actually do not know if this is particularly true for the hiking club in Tokyo Tech, but it was strong enough so that I didn’t go to the club members directly and ask.

Leadership #2 – My best leadership experience – USP|Debate

 How eight students brought politicians to debate in a country divided by politics

When I was in my undergrad, I was a student at the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. At that time, the  great political polarization that there is in the country now (as of 2018) was begging to get worse and that could be seen outside and inside the university. It was hard to find a group where discussion was evidence based and I realized that we, students of the best university in the country, were not prepared to discuss politics and were not aware of the extent of the consequences of the political polarization.

I remember one friend telling me she was walking on the street and she was pushed and spat on because she was wearing a pin of one of the country 35 political parties, mostly divided between left and right. I also watched some discussions of the students about different topics. The discussions lasted up to 7 hours and only the people who stayed until the end could vote. Usually, the discussions were not structured and the diversity of opinion was low. Good ideas usually were not expressed well and were lost, and bad ideas that could capture the mood of the crowd would be carried on. On the other hand, official elections for student representation had low attendance and there was not such a thing as an unison student voice. This was also because of the sheer size of the university, which has more than 94.000 students as of 2018.

And even though I was dissatisfied, I realized that I didn’t have enough information to make decisions about important things that were happening at the university and at the country.  This was extremely worrying, and I saw the others students also lacked a north. Not a political opinion, but a method to gather information from different sources, analyze them and take decisions with sureness enough to question their peers and themselves.

Then, I met a group which was trying to begin a debate group in the university.

In Europe and the USA, these groups are common, but in Brazil they were unknown.  The founder of the group at the university was Henrique Vitta, who had met debate groups from other universities that were recently created. Vitta was an undergrad from Accounting and he had been the president of FEA Junior, one of the few companies in Brazil ran by undergrads that has a yearly profit of more than R$1 mi. The idea of introducing debates in Brazilian universities was originated from the Law school of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and was coordinated by Renato Ribeiro.

In the begging, the debate group at the university was small, many people would come from one of the meetings that interested them but then would not return to the other meetings. Because we were not an official group from the university, we had to pay all of the expenses with our own money, like printing and travelling, and had to do meetings at open spaces, because we couldn’t have a room at the university. A philosophy professor,  Prof. Cícero de Araújo helped us to deal with formalities, so we became an official project of the university. This made it easier to use rooms in the campus, but our resources were still extremely limited.

Resultado de imagem para fau usp

The Faculty of Architecture of the University of São Paulo, where USP|Debate started the meetings. We could not reserve rooms of the university, so we used the open space of the building. The place was open and busy, so the meetings were often disrupted.

For more than a year, we tried to gather more and more people, going to the classrooms and inviting the new students. But they had never heard of competitive debate and this made it much harder. Competitive debate is nonexistent at the schools and it is perceived as a bad thing because of the way debate is carried on by the politics, which is shown at television. Also, we followed a model of debate in which people are stimulated to exercise defending an opinion opposite from what they believe. And this is such a discomfort that most people would be reluctant to try. When I went to the classrooms, people whispered: “God forbid someone hear me defending the policitian XXX” or “How can they decide who wins the debate. It is always subjective!”.

When this kind of thing happened, I tried to explain that we don’t defend ideas that go against ethical principles, and that we only discuss ideas that have reasonable pros and cons and that there are objective ways to judge the quality of a debate. Anyway, we had to fight against the standard the politicians had set of what debate was. This nonsensical standard had direct effects in our lives and at the decisions made at the university. When terrible decisions were made by politicians, people didn’t realize that rejecting a proposal is not enough, but it was necessary to reject a method of thinking to be able to navigate a scenario as complex as the one we were living.

Resultado de imagem para biblioteca brasiliana

After the Faculty of Architecture, the meetings of USP|Debate were hosted by a new building at the campus, the Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin. Bianca Checon managed to get a room reserved for us in the underground. The building was well equipped and we found a perfect place for our meetings. But people were still not coming.

After the Faculty of Architecture, the meetings of USP|Debate were hosted by a new building at the campus, the Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin. Bianca Checon managed to get a room reserved for us in the underground. The building was well equipped and we found a perfect place for our meetings. But people were still not coming.

With the years passing, our group was becoming smaller and smaller. We had good people coming, like Bianca Checon, a PhD student that in the future would be the new president of the USP|Debate. Bianca would always bring so much information to the meetings and later she helped Henrique to get a perfect place for our meetings, a room in the new library in the campus, one of the most beautiful and most coveted places to be.

However, before that, there was a feud between the 3 founders of the group.

The main cause of the failure was the stark disappointment: yet so much work was done to promote the group, so few people were coming and staying. After all, the university had 94.000 students and the country obviously needed what we were doing, so where did we fail in bringing people? Accusations began and the founders of USP|Debate split into two.

Henrique Vitta continued to lead one of the groups, but for a long time the project seemed faded to failure. We not only had two groups, but we had two groups that were competing to be called USP|Debate.  As time passed, one of the groups faded and USP|Debate restarted with new people, but we had lost almost all progress we had made up to this point, since many people left because of the conflict rid environment at that time. I remember sometimes we had meetings with 2 or 3 people, but I always considered that as a study session, so I remained, despite being dissapointed of what could have been.  With more divulgation work, we gathered a core of 8 people that always came to the meetings: Henrique Vitta, Bianca Checon, Felipe Bragança, Lucas Silva, Bruno Fochesato, Renato Bispo,  Gabriel Vieira and I (Marcos Masukawa).

One day, out of the blue, Henrique Vitta proposed that we make a debate with the candidates to mayor of São Paulo, the largest city of Latin America.

The idea seemed absurd, we couldn’t even bring students to come to our group! How could we bring candidates that were some of the most important politicians in the country in a time when they are the busiest doing their campaign? Besides, Henrique Vitta, who was leading USP|Debate until this point had to leave for work to the other side of the country. It would be only 7 of us. Still, we believed in the idea, or like a member would say later, “we pretended we believed”. Henrique convinced us by saying: If it failed, it failed, but if it worked it would be a way to get the eyes of the university Dean, so we could get a good space for our meetings, maybe a some money for travelling to compete. And, most importantly, show that the politicians could also have a productive debate if we had set an environment for the conversation.

Bianca Checon and I were the only “original” members of the group. Before Vitta left, the three of us decided that Bianca should be the president of the group and this was the right decision. With the new members, we decided we would call our debate with the candidates “Jornada eleitoral (Electoral journey)”. But the event still seemed completely unfeasible. Then, we had the idea to try a partnership with the university radio, Radio USP.  That way, we could use the fact that Radio USP was an official Institution of the University and could make reservation of spaces, besides, the audio of the debate with the candidates could be professionally recorded and broadcasted, making it more attractive for the candidates to come.

Prof. Cícero helped us to get the meeting with Radio USP. After the meeting, it was decided they would ask the university lawyers if we were doing something legal. We didn’t think about that, but in Brazil the laws about election campaign are extremely rigid and it is illegal to do campaign too early before the elections.

The lawyers told us that what we wanted was possible with a condition.

Our original plan was to bring 4 or 5 candidates for a debate similar to the television, but this was not allowed because it would mean we were using the public resources to favor some of the candidates. But the lawyers also said that if we invited all the candidates it would not be a problem. However, this meant we had to invent a completely new debate format. A debate with such a large number of candidates had never been done in television or radio. And we had to do it in a fair way according to the law… or risk being sued. Then, we decided we would do it. And rushed to a marathon to call all the 11 candidates.

This marathon would last for 2 months. We started calling the candidates and we were mostly ignored at first. Bruno Fochesato , Lucas Silva and Bianca Checon were responsible for calling the Personal Relation (PR) groups of the candidates. The work was exhaustive and they had to make calls and send emails for months without stop until hours before the actual day, so that the largest number of candidates could come. According to the law, if the candidate declined we could still hold the event, but we needed an official document to prove that the candidate was not willing to come and that was also hard to get.

Because of Radio USP, we could reserve the largest and most beautiful auditorium of the University, the  Center for International Diffusion. But that was just one part of the challenge. In the months before the event, we designed flyers, posters, we sent emails, made phone calls, glue posters throughout the campus, planned every step of the big day of the debate in a format that was never ever done in TV or Radio. We were definitely overwhelmed, not to forget we were still students and we had to attend classes and take tests in the meanwhile.

For me, a large part of my hardship came from what should be a simple role. I had to get the coffee break for the candidates. I called about 50 companies that could give us the coffee break for free, because we had no money. However, at this time, the economic crisis was already at a very bad point and I had to hear a NO from all the companies I called and visited. That was frustrating. To worsen our stress,  we also found out that Radio USP was using the name that we created for our event – Jornada eleitoral (Electoral journey) – to other events they were organizing based on our event without consulting us! Our blood boiled a little when credit was due. Still, we had to communicate our discomfort without putting in risk the whole partnership and chose to do it after the event. Afterall, it was only possible because of Radio USP and we were very thankful.

The last preparations for the debate of the candidates to São Paulo city elections.

Would anyone come?

We never in a thousand years thought this would happen because the candidates were very well known and because the week before there was one event at the university with one of the candidates that had thousands of people. Also, we did hundreds of posters and flyers and glued them in all institutes of the campus.

Bruno and I took flyers and went to the cafeteria because that is where we hoped to find more people. We gave flyers and screamed (literally) about the event until we had to go back because the event was about to start.

People arriving to the debate. Picture: Cecília Bastos/USP Imagens.

Then, the event happened.

It was perfect.

Probably not perfect, but I don’t remember of any major failure. We were worried some of the candidates would use harsh words or that the question of the students would be impolite but it didn’t happen. I think that because we treated everyone so fairly, the small and big politicians alike, and made clear again and again that it was a fair game, that everyone was thankful and respectful. The university dean also came with a last minute confirmation and made a speech. At the end of each talk, the candidates received an acrylic paperweight of the USP|Debate that I had handcrafted one by one in the previous night. Then, the event ended and we felt a sense of relief that was unmatched to any other. We were extremely proud.

We had spent our own money in the event and we have done something that would have taken a full company and probably thousands of dollars to do it. And only 8 people did it.  I am still amazed of how we were able to bring the candidates together at this gorgeous building and to broadcast it for the whole state. Yet, we had no money to serve a coffee to the mayor of São Paulo. PS: he was a candidate for a second term and came to the event. PPS: He did ask for a coffee.

The group from USP|Debate that organized the Electoral Journey. Felipe, Gabriel, I, Bianca, Lucas, Renato, Bruno from left to right. Henrique is not in the picture. Picture: Cecília Bastos/USP Imagens

The autograph of the candidates that came to the Debate.

Some days after the high had passed, we realized there was still so much to do. The event didn’t mean USP|Debate would be successful from one day to the other and at the time we were so exhausted by the event that we didn’t use all the lever we had access right after the event. I had to leave Brazil and soon other members were leaving and new ones were coming. USP|Debate still had a lot of work to do to become a household name at the university, but I had the feeling we redefined what a debate group can do. USP|Debate is still smaller than other debates groups in Brazil, but now it has gained new vitality and it is being coordinated by Kleber Henriques.

I hope that in the future debate will be a common activity in the schools and universities in Brazil. And I still hope that USP|Debate  can organize an election event again to show that – even – the politicians can be brought together and find common ground.

Things we did right at first try

  • Make a partnership with established institutions from the university, the USP Radio and USP newspaper that could provide us legal and institutional support
  • Establish a friendly contact with the PR of the politicians
  • Establish strict deadlines and goal oriented meetings
  • Make a consistent visual identity for the event (posters, flyers, backdrops, souvenirs) and make sure our brand USP|Debate is visible
  • Organize the event with ultra-low cost limitations

Things we should improve for a next event

  • Guarantee financial support from the university on an early stage based on the previous successful event
  • Use other approaches of marketing so more people attend the event and that it is reported in other media, not only the radio and newspaper from the university
  • During the event, use any lever possible (without being importunate or persistent) with the dean and other people from the university to secure more resources and space for the USP|Debate project and for the next events

Links

USP|Debate website

Links about the event (Portuguese)

Interviews with the candidates (Youtube)

 

Leadership #1 – Photo collage – ‘Soft leadership’

This post is an exercise for the Global Leadership practice 

Five pictures that capture leadership practices

When looking for examples of leadership, it is common to look for historical figures of political or military importance. But I  was wary of the fact that those  who have set strong policies and made a dent in history did so because of the magnitude of their disruption and because the consequences – often unplanned –  came to have a positive light in the after event. For example, when Paris was reformed by Georges-Eugène Haussmann in the XIX century, thousands of families and businesses were moved for the construction of new boulevards. The disruption had a positive perduring effect but the unilateral decision to reform a major city today in the same way could be seen as a bad leadership practice.

So, it is a requirement to put leaders as people of their time. That way, we can at least  be partially satisfied to deal with inconsistencies when praising leadership actions, that is, praising a leader for a certain decision and disproving the next for similar decisions at another date. That also happens when leaders of their time were found to be racist, homophobic or to support ideas that make less sense today. Therefore, to study leadership practices, in my opinion, it is necessary to examine specific action of the leaders, instead a praise for their personality.

Another neglected aspect of leadership practices is to admire how much work and effort is needed to carry smooth transitions and reforms. We are seriously biased towards the great events that cause change abrupt change and confrontation, those which are depicted in paintings and highlighted at biographys. But, because of this bias, we loose a large number of references of leaders that made their way to their goals with less friction. So, in this post, l tried to capture some of the leaders that had great impact with calculated disruption. This is a list to address  largely neglected acts of leadership.

To make this list, I came with my definition for five aspects of leadership first . Then, I thought of a leader that represented it and tried to see what they had done that caused me to think they represent this leadership aspect. I did so to avoid a cult of personality and so we can truly learn with their examples. Because this soft leadership has less historical record, these figures are from contemporary history, but I wish historians could collect more examples of soft leadership that spanned back in time.

Model the way

Someone who can gather information, define a guideline and implement it.

Linus Torvalds

Image result for linus torvalds linux

Linus was the creator os Linux, an open source operation system used in computers and servers worldwide.

Linus Torvalds created the basic code for the operation system Linux. The creation of an operation system, which is an impossible task by an individual, could only be achieved  because of management of open source software that could be developed by individuals and by enterprises at the same time.

Inspire a shared vision

Someone who has a plan and can describe it clearly so the end goal is distant enough from the problem presented but yet is doesn’t look utopic and unreachable.

Allain the botton
Image result for alain de botton school of life

Allain de Botton makes a speech at Sidney.

Why: Alain is a philoshopher that makes youtube videos on his channel School of Life about philosophy, sociology, pop cultures and other topics. He uses all the sources of human knowledge to produce  extremely practical content and explores the current resources in technology and media  to reach people.

Challenge the process

Someone that can keep a rebel at heart and have the patience to learn the processes to disrupt it from inside.

Pope Fransisco

Image result for pope francis throne

Pope Fransisco respects the traditions of the church while keeping his ascetic style.

Why: Fransisco brought simplicity and humility to the Vatican and within a few years changed the perception of the catholic church. So far he has gained enough support from within the church to tackle tabu problems such as pedophilia and corruption at the higher ranks of the church.

Enable others to act

Set the environment so people can feel their opinions count and their actions have actual effects on a larger picture.

Peter Drucker

Image result for peter drucker

Peter Drucker helped the leader of Japanese companies to rebuild the country after the war.

Why: Peter Drucker was a manager consultant that wrote a about the human aspect of business. He wrote a book called Managing oneself, which is one of the greatest discussions about how to manage knowledge and to understand  ambitions and abilities of oneself.

Encourage the heart

Someone that can cultivate and channel non-destructive human feelings to a common project.

Oprah Winfrey

Image result for oprah winfrey school africa

Oprah Winfrey open her leadership academy for girls in South Africa.

Why: Oprah Winfrey is best known for hosting her talk show until 2011. During the show, she brought to the television problems that resonated with the whole country and discussed them in an open and empathetic manner.

Strategy of Japanese robot industry

Essay submitted for the class Strategical Management of Technology – Jun 17

An investigative essay about how the government of Japan is shaping the business strategy of national robot manufactures. *The original work submitted has been slightly altered.

Main conclusions of this work

  1. The robot industry of Japan is the largest of the world, however the domestic market is decreasing.
  2. A Robot revolution is articulated by the government via funding, easing regulations and bond buying.
  3. The Bank of Japan is on a program of bonding buying and has a major shareholder position on the robot sector.
  4. It is unclear if the government directly influences the strategy of the robot industry.
  5. The industry has mostly adhered to the Robot revolution plan established by the government, but it demonstrates resistance to incorporate changes related to opening software.

Overview of the Japanese robot industry, market and government management

The Japanese robot industry is the largest of the world. In the last report of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japanese robot industry accounted for 50.2% of a $8.49 bi market. Despite the overall growth, Japan saw a decrease of 25% of the domestic market between 2008 and 2013 [1]. However, the growth of robot use by China, Germany, South Korea and the US led a strong increase of the market size of about 60% between 2008 and 2013. These countries plus Japan account for more than 75% of all robot purchases [2].

To understand the reasons behind the decline in the Japanese domestic market, we can apply the Porter’s five forces analysis (Fig. 1). On one hand, Japanese companies have two main aspects in their favour: suppliers have low bargain power and the threat of new entrants is low/medium. A low threat of the suppliers exists because the semiconductor and electronic supplier industry in Japan is extremely competitive and diversified, making it easy to look for alternative suppliers. More than that, many large companies hold shares on the supplier companies. This strategy model is known as “keiretsu” and helps to stabilize price fluctuations. Two examples are the Sumitomo corporation (owner of Sumitomo bank, NEC, Mazda, among others) and Dai-Ichi Kangyo corporation (owner of Mizuho bank, Fujistsu, Hitachi, among others), which are clients of Trend Micro software company and, at the same time, are indirectly major shareholders of the company via multiple subsidiary fund accounts (Japan Trustee Services Page, subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings and Trust and Custody Services Bank, subsidiary of Mizuho Financial Group)[3].

Figure 1: Main features of the Fiver forces Porter analysis for the domestic scenario of robot industry in Japan.

The other aspect in favor of the Japanese robot industry is the low threat of new entrants. The robot industry requires a set of core competencies which is expensive to develop. As a consequence, only major companies have been able to give continuity to serious robot programs. Additionally, the Japanese corporate market has strong brand loyalty [4] and new companies need high differentiation and focus strategy to be able to place a product. As a result, the robot industry in Japan is composed of previously existing traditional organizations, with research made in national centers and a very modest start-up scenario in comparison with the Europe and North-America. Among the new companies, the one of the most prominent is Cyberdyne, a venture firm which makes robotic suits and exoskeletons. The firm was initially funded with technology developed at Tsukuba University and funded by transfer aids from the Ministry of Economy, trade and industry (METI) and New energy and industrial technology development organization (NEDO) with the purpose of developing robots that can be worn, aiding impaired people to walk or helping to weight heavy lifts (Fig. 2). The company has been valued at about $2.6 bi and had relatively successful penetration in European markets, but, it has been struggling to make profits [5].

On the other hand, the domestic market of Japanese robots face three serious issues: the threat of substitute product, the rivalry among competitors and the bargaining of buyers. One central point is that currently most robots are used for industrial applications [6]. In the case of Japan, it is the country with the second highest incorporation of robots (after South Korea). For each 10,000 employees, there are about 300 robots [2]. But manufacturing jobs have been decreasing according to METI [7] and wages have remained stable in the last 10 years differently from other countries like China, South Korea, US and Germany [8], which have pressure to substitute workers due to rising salaries. As a unique case, the substitute products from Japan is traditional labour, which disfavor further robot incorporation.

Figure 2: Similar robots produced by major Japanese companies.

The government is trying to change this situation with a plan for a Robot revolution [9], which aims to turn Japan into a “robot superpower” and is part of the plan devised by the government to revitalize Japan’s economy [10], which we synthesized in a PEST graph (Political, Economical, Social, Technological points of view of the Japanese government about the robot industry 3). The main idea is that robots will be incorporated in areas not saturated by robot use, such as healthcare, food and agriculture. The plan also contains a set of actions to be taken by the government to stimulate the robot industry and to position it on the international market. The government hopes that the Robot revolution will help at the same time to solve the problem of aging population in Japan and of the escalating healthcare costs, which are estimated to increase by about 1 trillion yen per year [11].

 

Figure 3: PEST analysis of the robot industry in Japan according to the Robot revolution planned by the Japanese government.

 

Companies have apparently complied with the government plan, which led to the development of very similar products such as in Fig. 2 by major Japanese companies. Although each products claims differentiations and niche markets, there is clear competition, since they were designed with a general purpose in mind. Most seriously, although the Robot revolution plan has been a well defined set of actions to tackle serious problems of Japan, the market for consumer robots such as in Fig. 2 has not been fully deployed, which means large R&D projects have to be conducted with the perspective of a potential market without actual profits. According to Minoru Asada from Osaka University, “Japan has been a technology leader, especially in hardware, but when it comes to strategies for making robots more available to society at large, we are behind” (via The Financial Times) [12]. As a consequence, customers who are unsure if they need or want a certain product have higher purchase power and are part of a smaller market, which increases the rivalry and competition between similar products.

As METI recognized, “Should Japan lag behind such trend in terms of ideas about robot development or perspectives of business models, Japan will be isolated from the rest of the world in the field of robotics as well and be eyed as Galapagos which will draw more concerns over the situation in Japan where craftsmanship enjoys a victory but business suffers a defeat.” [13]. The analogy to Galapagos is a reference to the isolated island in the Pacific ocean where animals evolved unique characteristics due to the lack of competition and predators and means that it is not necessary only for Japan to have the best robots, but also to find profitable business models. At the moment, the market for consumer robots in Japan is promising, but elusive.

Paradoxically, both the most relevant strengths and weakness of the industry lie in the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese domestic robot market. If we do the SWOT analysis of the robot industry in Japan (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threat), it becomes clearer that Japan is in a very unique position. One main strength of the Japanese robot industry is the advanced hardware industry which has been developed trough decades of R&D in related technology sectors and has allowed high incorporation of robots in the industry, most notably in the automotive sector [14]. A second main strength is related to the openness of Japanese people to robots as part of society. That means that even if consumer robots have not yet become a hit product, Japanese society is more comfortable interacting with humanoid robots than people from western cultures [15]. And it may as well not be a choice, given the aging population in Japan. Japan currently has the highest ratio of dependents/working force in the world and it is set to increase significantly by 2030 [16]. Prime minister Shinzo Abe said “Japan’s demography, paradoxically, is not an onus, but a bonus.” [17]. In that sense, the urgency to solve the aging problem and the low productivity rates of Japan is an incentive to the robot industry translated in government financing and regulatory support. $100 bi yen have been reserved for the Robot revolution project [13] and the robot regulations have been eased. According to Reuters, “The trade ministry has convinced health ministry officials to relax certification procedures for medical devices and introduce affordable robots to nursing homes on a trial basis.” and cites Kiyoshi Sawaki, head of the trade ministry’s industrial machinery division: “The approval process is being simplified. […] So companies can’t use the same excuses that they did before.” [18].

Figure 4: SWOT analysis of the robot industry in Japan in an international scenario.

The incentives given by the government try to overcome the high risks associated with the emerging market of robots for consumers. That is probably necessary given that major Japanese companies tend to be risk averse [4], which can be a weakness in a fast changing market. Another reported weakness of the Japanese robot industry is over-engineering, a gap between what engineers envision and the minimum product required, causing delays in releases and increase in the price and complexity of the product [19]. Naturally, many of the robots developed by the companies such as depicted in Fig. 2 are made to develop competencies for future projects, but Bruno Maisonnier, CEO of the french company Aldebaran, which developed the robot Pepper for Softbank points: “Honda makes an impressive robot [Asimo], but where can I buy it?”.

As a result, while Japanese industrial robots thrive, there has been a grey area for assistant robots such as in Fig. 2. Critics say one of the causes of the delay in the market deployment is the resistance of Japanese companies to open the software and allow outside programmers to develop software. Japan robot industry is regarded as a hardware power, but software has lagged behind [12]. The government pointed in the Robot revolution plan that this issue must be addressed choosing robots with open software for the companies to work together, but major Japanese companies usually do not have experience in handling open software and this seems to be one of the few aspect of the government guidelines which were ignored.

This poses a great threat from other robot exporters which have experience in managing open software like Germany, France and the US. On the case of China and South Korea, the threat arises from the geographical proximity: a report from Moody’s shows that most of the robot trade is inter-regional. Therefore, in order to Japan to establish its position as a robot superpower, it is not enough to do well on a global scale but to surpass regional competitors China and South Korea, which are heavily investing to achieve the same position (China 1.9% of GDP and South Korea 4%) [2].

This raises the question: are Japanese companies heading further away from a blue ocean? This seems to be happening not only because of fierce international competition, but also but also because of the domestic compliance to the Robot revolution, which comes with advantages – financing, easing of regulations – and burdens – heavy R&D expenditure, development of low profit products, risk taking. By itself, it is remarkable that the government was able to engage the companies in this policy. Traditionally, Asian companies prefer to keep good relations with the government while western companies don’t mind being disruptive, but there might be another another aspect that could be considered.

In the last years, the Bank of Japan has become the major buyer in the stock Japanese stock market and is now the a Top 5 owner of 81 companies listed and on course to become major shareholder of 55 companies. The mass purchase is said to be done to help to achieve the 2% inflation rate established by “Abenomics” policy and reinforced by the Bank of Japan [20]. According to prime minster Shinzo Abe, “The government and the BOJ will work as one in close coordination to accelerate ’Abenomics’”. These purchases are distributed along strategical sector of the Japanese economy, including robotics, as shown in Table 1. There is no evidence that the Bank of Japan or the government indirectly influences the strategy of these companies, but it would be odd if a government shareholder would oppose the plan established by the government. So, Table 1 suggests there is another factor to account on the reasons the robot industry is following the Robot revolution plan and reveals also a collateral way the government can support the industry with higher security and stable price of suppliers. These actions are consistent with the ambitions of the Robot revolution plan, however, they might help to steer companies away from a blue ocean towards a common goal and they make the sphere of influence of the government unclear.

References

[1] Ministry of Economy Trade Industrial Machinery Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau and Industry. Trends in the market for the robot industry in 2012 summary of survey results. http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2013/pdf/0718_01.pdf, July 2013. (Accessed on 06/09/2017). [2] MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE. Robotics’ Impact on Emerging Market High-Tech Exporters Depends on their Technology Absorption Capacity. Technical report, MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE, 2017. [3] Trend micro. Trend micro investor relantions fact guide. https://www.trendmicro.com/ content/dam/trendmicro/global/en/about/investor-relations/IR_FactSheet2017_ E_final.pdf. (Accessed on 06/27/2017). [4] Rohit Deshpandé, John U Farley, and Frederick E Webster Jr. Corporate culture, customer orientation, and innovativeness in japanese firms: a quadrad analysis. The journal of Marketing, pages 23–37, 1993. [5] No profit? no problem. japan’s cyberdyne an instant stock darlingnikkei asian review. http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Tokyo-Market/ Cyberdyne-pulled-off-an-impressive-stock-market-debut-but-has-yet-to-make-profits. (Accessed on 06/09/2017). [6] Dana Neumann. Human assistant robotics in japan-challenges and opportunities for european companies. 2016. [7] Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry. Japan’s Manufacturing Industry. Technical report, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, 2010. [8] Average annual wages. https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=AV_AN_WAGE. (Accessed on 06/10/2017). [9] Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry. Action Plan for FY 2015 Robot Revolution Initiative Council. Technical report, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, 2010. [10] Prime minister of Japan and his cabinet. Japan revitalization strategy 2016. Technical report, Prime minister of Japan and his cabinet, 2010. [11] Yoritomo Wada. 2015 healthcare outlook japan. https://www2.deloitte. com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Life-Sciences-Health-Care/ gx-lshc-2015-health-care-outlook-japan.pdf, 2015. (Accessed on 06/10/2017). [12] Jonathan Soble. Japan’s robot makers under threat. https://www.ft.com/content/ ca019040-f083-11e3-8f3d-00144feabdc0?mhq5j=e3, 2014. (Accessed on 06/10/2017). [13] New robot strategy, japan’s robot strategy – vision, strategy, action plan -. Technical report.[14] Yoshihiro Kusuda. Robotization in the japanese automotive industry. Industrial Robot: An International Journal, 26(5):358–360, 1999. [15] Frédéric Kaplan. Who is afraid of the humanoid? investigating cultural differences in the acceptance of robots. International journal of humanoid robotics, 1(03):465–480, 2004. [16] Anirban Nag. Robots may help defuse demographic time bomb in japan, germany. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-29/ robots-may-help-defuse-demographic-time-bomb-in-japan-germanys. 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[22] Notice of convocation of the 70th ordinary general meeting of shareholders and relevant business information. http://www.fuji.co.jp/e/datas/pdf/news/Notice%20of%20Convocation% 20of%20the%2070th%20Ordinary%20General%20Meeting%20of%20Shareholders%20and% 20Relevant%20Business%20Information.pdf. (Accessed on 06/08/2017). [23] Fujitsu stock and shareholder information faq – fujitsu global. http://www.fujitsu.com/ global/about/ir/faq/stock/. (Accessed on 06/08/2017). [24] Stock information : Investor relations : Hitachi global. http://www.hitachi.com/IR-e/stock/ information/. (Accessed on 06/08/2017). [25] Idec corporate data. http://jp.idec.com/cms/pdf/usr/ir/library/2016/ IDECReport2016_EN_10.pdf. (Accessed on 06/08/2017). [26] General stock information – shareholders and stock information ir ihi corporation. https://www. ihi.co.jp/en/ir/stock/information/. (Accessed on 06/08/2017). 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Original PDF file: RobotStrategy_masukawa

Coding into cracks – How inherent flaws of law can be exploited by artificial intelligence

Essay submitted for the 47th Saint Gallen Symposium.

For more than 50 years, researchers have been developing the theoretical foundations to use Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in law. But, only recently, the first A.I.’s made their way into big law companies. For now, A.I. systems act as assistants, however, it is expected that their responsibilities grow in the next years. As they do so, computers will face the complicated challenge of understanding human language and, more specifically, law. But could it be that they also do that better than us? A common opinion is ”yes, because laws are sets of logical hierarchical rules, which computers can handle well” and, conversely, ”no, because computers follow fixed instructions and therefore can’t reason”. We will know the answer in the foreseeable future, but both justifications are wrong. In this essay, we will try to show why laws can not be interpreted as simple mathematical statements and how computers are able to cope with it, possibly posing a challenge to the judiciary system procedures and helping us to see flaws in today’s making and amendment of laws.

The cracks

It is often believed that law is a logic and consistent set of rules or, more modestly, that the inconsistencies in legislation compose a small set among the vast universe of laws discussed and written by a parliamentary institution based on democratic principles and constantly under review. However, this is not strictly true. Holmes, an associate justice from the USA supreme court in the early XX century, famously wrote: ”The life of the law has not been logic; it has been  experience”.

Seminal work of philosophers Jacques Derrida, Niklas Luhmann and Rudolf Wiethölter originally discussed the fact that law is ridden with inconsistencies[1], even though civilian instinct may insist that the laws are subject to strict logical reasoning and so are accepted and legitimated. Although there are many examples of such contradictions, which can be sourced from the discussions on the book ”Paradoxes and Inconsistencies in the Law”[2], we would like to avoid the interpretation that flaws are due to a specific law or country or political inclination and will discuss law on the broadest sense possible.

Some reasons why laws contain inconsistencies are, for instance, because legislation adapts in reaction to the historical/social context and usually there isn’t extended thought before laws have to be changed. This is directly related to the fact that there are close ties between law and traditions. Such relation is concomitantly cause and palliative solution for inconsistencies: at the same time laws have no compromise to mathematical rigour, they are subject to further judgment, review and iteration that makes them adequate and legitimate. And, most importantly for this essay, laws contain inconsistencies because they are almost always made and interpreted using classical logic [3], which can not be used in systems with paradoxical definitions. As a surprise to many people, there are other logic systems, some of which can handle inconsistencies better such as paraconsistent [4] and defeasible logic [5].

But the stated reasons on why laws are flawed are by no means nihilistic and do not implicate that laws should be disregarded. In a context in which law is made by humans and interpreted by humans, the vagueness is what allows laws to conform [6]. Furthermore, in order to make sense of the legislation, it becomes necessary to have an extensive knowledge not only of laws, but also of the current political situation and human reasoning and nature. This knowledge is cumulative and, because of that, so extensive, that it takes years to train a lawyer to be able to reason a complex law case and, most importantly, to express her or his own reasoning understandably and convincingly. For the complexity and importance of this job, the lawyer profession has been for many centuries praised and subject of much esteem. Fairness and persuasion were commodities that few could offer, let alone computers. But this was to change in this decade.

The code

The attempts to automatize the activities related to law date back to the 70’s [7, 8, 9]. But, until recently, researchers could not tell whether or not computers would abide unable to do tasks such as collecting evidence, ordering data by relevance, synthesizing unstructured text and image, interacting with lawyers, sensing political and public moods, creating and supporting thesis and conveniently exposing the summary in a human understandable way. Computer still don’t excel at some of this tasks, but not long ago many researchers from the A.I. field believed it would be impossible for computers to execute such tasks even on a basic level [7, 10, 11].

As consequence, the practical use of A.I. until the 90’s was limited to simple tasks such as counting the frequency of words, simple word context guessing and matching short text excerpts to input keywords [7, 12]. The technology at this time was highly experimental and it took a 50 years hiatus until A.I.  software and humans shared tasks in big companies.

Ross, for example, is a modern software lawyer already employed in law companies to do the same job as junior lawyers. Ross searches relevant cases and is able to extract facts and conclusions from documents [13]. And it can only do so because it uses multiple techniques of natural language processing, information retrieval, machine learning, computational linguistics, knowledge representation and knowledge reasoning [14]. Theoretical studies on these areas are relatively recent and this is the first reasons why A.I. software felt short of expectations until now. The second reason is that the computational power needed for such intensive tasks was not available a couple of years ago.

So, what would be a scenario in which A.I. is completely integrated with law and used in the judiciary system? Prof. Richard Susskind, from University of Oxford and one of the earliest promoters of use of A.I. in law, suggests that in the beginning, two parallel processes will occur: the use of A.I. as assistants and the progressive increase in A.I. autonomy in judiciary tasks [15]. At the moment, the first seems to be true as Ross is already used with this purpose, but Susskind proposes that soon people will use A.I. online platforms as consultants and that the role of A.I. in law will be to democratize access to law advice. This scenario is optimistic but feasible, since many technology companies today adopt a business model of democratic access to technology. But a much less discussed aspect of this scenario is how our laws and public workers will cope
with it.

Suppose a litigation whose parts use both human and A.I. lawyers and which is arbitrated by a judge who also uses a A.I. aid. Now, it is not uncommon that very complex scenarios develop, which are further painted by the parts. As a consequence, it can happen that there are not clear precedents. The plaintiff and her or his A.I. colleague would be able to bring a statically chosen set of previous legislation and metadata (information that describes information) to be presented by the lawyer. This metadata, which will guide the lawyer on how to make the case, is not only about the law itself, but it will take into account the expertise of the judge and the defense lawyer, making accurate guesses on the probability of winning the case. For example, a software from the University of Liverpool developed by the group led by Prof. Katie Atkinson was able to guess the correct result of 31 out of 32 cases of real law cases sampled [16].

And, fairly, the judge and defendant lawyer will have the same awareness. In a case regarding a long standing law, the plaintiff will be able to find a few hundred related precedents/legislation, with a couple being more relevant. Only to find out those are themselves contradictory to other laws as indicated by the defense lawyer. In the end, the infinite loop will be inevitably terminated by a verdict. But the main problem is that all of this discussion will be added to the pile, increasing the risk of making the whole set of laws even more inconsistent.

One useful analogy to understand this situation is the Socratic method. Socrates would walk in the street market of Athens talking to different people. As soon as an interlocutor made an assertion, Socrates would ask what are the premises, usually 4 or 5 would suffice. Then, Socrates would show that based on these premises the thesis of the interlocutor does not hold. And the point is, the more promises one adds or the more original promises one changes from the beliefs the  interlocutor started with, the less likely it will untangle the inconsistencies pointed by Socrates. Back to the court case, if we imagine that we are trying to make the laws sound like one consistent system and courts decisions are the answer to Socrates’ questions, we would have one remarkable difference. Instead of a handful of premises, the law system of every country deals with literally dozens of millions of premises, which, in our analogy, encompass legislation and precedents. And one point that may have passed unnoticed in this anecdote is that computers played the role of Socrates.

The same way Socrates fostered his interlocutors to think critically by realizing inconsistencies, we might be forced to see by the use of A.I. that our law systems may in the long term not reflect what we expect from it. Maybe Socrates himself reached this conclusion before being ordered to poison himself by a jury in Athens 399 B.C. The point being, how will we react to the realization that law may become cumulatively less intuitive? And why would we hear computers if philosophers and jurists already pointed that?One of the reasons is that the use of A.I. will allow us to look at law in a broader scale rather than self-contained and, with that, inconsistencies will become much clearer and quantifiable. For example, a team from Griffith University, Australia, now seeks to work with the Australian Taxation Office on the detection of loopholes in taxation laws and regulations [5]. Now, as we said before, inconsistencies are often not a source from serious grieve due to the consensus that law should be interpreted and that those interpretations should be made hierarchical, archived and used for posterity. Therefore, the point is not the sole existence of inconsistencies, but their abundance in a way that inconsistencies can be criminally exploited and undermine public confidence in the law.

At the same time this may help to bring light on the romantic view on the fairness of law, it might diminish the confidence on it below the threshold required for legitimacy of the institutions, giving the feeling that as long as the law in old enough or complex enough and the chances of inconsistencies have been introduced are high, A.I. can be used as a tool to revert and postpone decisions. We may find a harsh way to realize that the same way a fruitful discussion requires common knowledge, consensus requires common ignorance. However, this seems-to-be-dystopian reality assumes the way we make and interpret law remains the same for the coming years.

Concluding remarks

In the book Artificial legal intelligence by Pamela Grey, it reads ”There is now an opportunity to review legal intelligence and consciously determinate any evolutionary leap in the form of codification [17]”. The author suggests that the challenging advance of A.I. in law is in fact an opportunity to reform the law system. Big changes on law systems are indeed rare and have only happened a few times in history in reaction to moments of huge turmoil. However, if it becomes imminent that reforms are made due to the use of A.I., it will be an advantage that we had thought beforehand on the implications of modifying our current law model. At this point, resistance should be expected from an institution which is largely based in tradition. In order to aid any transition, it is a requirement that world leaders, law makers and judiciary are acquainted with the ongoing changes of the use of A.I. in law and that population has a minimum degree of programming literacy to understand and concur. To have an uneducated opinion on this matter is willingly assuming the risk of choosing a sub-optimal solution when changes in what is law and how we do law become increasingly imperative.

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