News » 2004 » Inamori Foundation Announces 20th Annual Kyoto Prizes for Lifetime Achievement in Technology, Science, Arts and Philosophy


Inamori Foundation Announces 20th Annual Kyoto Prizes for Lifetime Achievement in Technology, Science, Arts and Philosophy

Two American Scientists, German Philosopher to receive $450,000 awards for contributions to the betterment of society

SAN DIEGO — June 11, 2004 — The Inamori Foundation (President: Kazuo Inamori) today announced the laureates of its 20th Annual Kyoto Prizes, international awards presented to people who have contributed significantly to mankind's betterment in the categories of Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.

This year's Kyoto Prize laureates will be computer scientist Dr. Alan Curtis Kay, 64, of Los Angeles, CA, a senior fellow at Hewlett-Packard Company; geneticist Dr. Alfred G. Knudson, Jr., 81, of Philadelphia, PA, a senior member of Fox Chase Cancer Center; and philosopher Dr. Jürgen Habermas, 74, of Starnberg, Germany, a professor emeritus at University of Frankfurt and permanent visiting professor at Northwestern University. Each laureate will receive a diploma, a Kyoto Prize Medal of 20-karat gold, and a cash gift of 50 million yen (approximately US $450,000) at the Kyoto Prize Ceremony in Japan on November 10. In addition, the laureates will convene in San Diego, CA, March 2-4, 2005, for the fourth annual Kyoto Laureate Symposium.

Considered among the world's leading awards for lifetime achievement, the Kyoto Prize recognizes significant contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual development of mankind.

"Today, we are rushing ahead with incredible scientific and technological achievements, while inquiry into our spiritual nature lags deplorably," said Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and president of The Inamori Foundation. "It is my hope that the Kyoto Prize will encourage balanced development of both our scientific progress and spiritual depth, and hence provide impetus toward the structuring of new philosophical paradigms."

Advanced Technology
The 2004 Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology has been chosen from the field of Information Science.

Alan Curtis Kay, Ph.D., will receive the award for creating the concept of modern personal computing and contributing to its realization.

Dr. Kay envisioned "creating a computer to support the intellectual endeavors of individuals," and began R&D on what he called the "personal computer" at the end of the 1960s. In the early 1970s, he unveiled his concept for the "Dynabook" machine, which represented the ideal of a personal computer that could be used freely by anyone -- even children. The Dynabook concept was a portable PC that could be connected to a wireless network. The idea represented a complete paradigm shift in what a computer was and how it could be used. Dr. Kay was one of the principal designers of the Alto computer at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which made it possible for an individual to have a computer with an interactive screen that employed bitmaps to display detailed graphics so that the computer could be operated visually. Already, this prototype had most of the important features common to modern personal computers, including a high-speed network (Ethernet) over which multiple computers could be connected. In particular, the innovative interface for visually operating the computer is the origin of the current graphical user interface. In addition, the combination of the Alto and Ethernet capabilities created the typical local area network (LAN), which was later developed to become an important component of the Internet. In the area of software, Dr. Kay led the development of "Smalltalk," an object-oriented programming development environment. The success of programming using an object-oriented syntax not only had a great effect on the design of such computer languages as C++ and Java, but also made a significant contribution to the general methodology for developing present-day complex information systems. During the mid 1990s, Dr. Kay evolved Smalltalk further and created "Squeak." Squeak is currently provided to R&D people as an open-platform, open-source programming development environment that is used around the world.

Basic Sciences
The 2004 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences has been chosen from the field of Life Science. Alfred G. Knudson, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. will receive the award for establishing the theory of the tumor suppressor gene in the mechanism of human carcinogenesis.

In 1971, Dr. Knudson challenged the accepted hypotheses of cancer formation when he proposed the "two-hit" model of carcinogenesis that was based on clinical observation of patients with retinoblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer. Knowing that all individuals among the higher life forms possess a pair of genes (alleles), one each inherited from the father and the mother, Dr. Knudson inferred that the germ cells of patients with the hereditary form of retinoblastoma had already incurred a first hit, or mutation, and then developed the disease following a second hit. Dr. Knudson predicted that cancer might develop when both of the alleles of these genes incurred mutations and formulated a concept that became his brainchild: the existence of anti-oncogenes, later renamed tumor suppressor genes. Dr. Knudson and other subsequent researchers further demonstrated that the "two-hit hypothesis" is actually triggered by the deletion or recombination of entire chromosomes or a defect in gene regions. The theory was also shown to be applicable to many tumor suppressing genes, among them Rb gene (Retinoblastoma) and BRCA1 (familial breast cancer). The cloning of Rb in 1986 showed for the first time the existence of tumor suppressor genes. Dr. Knudson's "two-hit hypothesis" and idea of "tumor suppressor genes" form two key concepts in cancer research and have provided the momentum for subsequent dramatic progress in the study of cancer genetics. Having illuminated a complex mechanism in carcinogenesis, Dr. Knudson and his achievements hold an important place in today's specialized life science research.

Arts and Philosophy
The 2004 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy has been chosen from the field of Thought and Ethics.

Philosopher Prof. Jürgen Habermas will receive the award for achievements in social philosophy, in particular his establishment of the communicative action theory and discourse ethics.

Prof. Habermas has earned a place among Germany's foremost modern philosophers by pioneering the synthesis of theory and practice from the perspective of "communicative action," an idea that, through language, people can pursue and achieve mutual understanding and agreement. In the 1970s, Prof. Habermas assimilated British and American analytic philosophy into his studies of social philosophy at the Frankfurt School, compiling his findings in his book, The Theory of Communicative Action. In this work, he explores the strength that is found in "communicative rationality," which allows people to engage in dialogue without violence or oppression. Discourse ethics proved a natural progression as it provided a foundation for the construction of universal social norms based on his communication theory. This is evidenced by Habermas' consistent commitment to the elimination of discrimination and violence and the establishment of relationships of coexistence among free and autonomous people. Today, Prof. Habermas continues to actively address social and political issues, thereby affecting German and European public policy through the fields of sociology, political science, law, history and geography. In the midst of divergent worldviews, he has raised the banner of universalism, continuing to support the ideals of individual rights, political freedom, democracy, and the belief that humanity still possesses the ability to positively influence its future.

About The Inamori Foundation
The Inamori Foundation was established in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Kyocera Corporation. The Kyoto Prize was founded in 1985, in line with Dr. Inamori's belief that man has no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that mankind's future can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth. It is characteristic of the Kyoto Prize that it is presented to individuals or groups in appreciation not only of their outstanding achievements, but also of the excellence of the personal characteristics on which they have built their contributions to mankind. The laureates are selected through a strict and impartial process considering candidates recommended from around the world. As of January 2004 the Kyoto Prize has been awarded to 63 laureates from 12 nations - ranging from scientists, engineers and researchers to architects, sculptors and film directors. The United States has produced the most recipients, with 27 laureates, followed by the United Kingdom (nine), Japan (eight) and France (seven).

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