Skip to Content
Uncategorized

It’s Getting Fuzzy

Today I was happily introduced to the Japanese concept of iki–which seems to describe my oddly fuzzy feeling.
October 17, 2007


I had an interesting conversation at the Media Lab today with visiting researcher Nozomi Kakiuchi, from Toshiba. Recently, I’ve been feeling that the technology world needs to move away from the exact and numerically precise, and instead toward a more vague and fuzzy language of expression.

Nozomi and I chatted about the strange “fuzzy logic” fad in Japan of the early 1990s, when it was not uncommon to see a “fuzzy logic vacuum cleaner” or a “fuzzy logic rice cooker” on sale in the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo. The premise is quite simple: instead of encoding values as numbers, ranges of numbers are tagged as having membership association with a word. Words are such great containers of knowledge.

Nozomi suggested that our conversation was essentially about iki (pronounced “ee-kee”). It’s something to do with inexactness and openness but all in all “the right fit” to a complex issue. Although it’s difficult to comprehend, I totally got it. I guess iki is iki too.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

How scientists traced a mysterious covid case back to six toilets

When wastewater surveillance turns into a hunt for a single infected individual, the ethics get tricky.

It’s time to retire the term “user”

The proliferation of AI means we need a new word.

The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.