Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from John Maeda

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.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.