What to expect from NTT Research's ‘Upgrade’ 2024 

The Computer Weekly Developer Network team is off to San Francisco for Upgrade 2024, NTT Research’s Global Research & Innovation Summit, so what can we expect?

Since the millennium, some technology industry events have stayed with us for most of this last (almost) quarter-century i.e. while the IBM, SAP Microsoft mainstays have variously been renamed and restaged (other platform company conferences are also available) they have mostly stuck around and appeared (pandemics notwithstanding) on an annual basis.

We also need to now include the new breed of events in start-up emerging markets with Tel Aviv, in Estonia’s jewel city of Tallinn and other unexpected locations including Cyprus, the Latvian capital city of Riga and the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Then there’s NTT. 

Across its NTT Research, NTT Data, NTT Docomo and other divisions, NTT has come to the fore over the last three years in particular with customer, developer, user/practitioner and press/analysts events staged across locations from the US West Coast to Europe and back in the company’s homeland in Japan itself.

As we now look to NTT Research’s Upgrade 2024, this two-day event is once again scheduled to analyse enterprise software and cloud technology innovations around privacy, precision medicine, optical devices and the digital workplace. The conference features a strong element of hands-on demonstration setups (some working products, some at the applied prototype stage and some even more embryonic) and it will be held at the NTT Experience Center (XC) and the Metreon, both in San Francisco from April 10-11, 2024.

Core agenda

The event’s core proceedings are straightforward. April 10th kicks off with the Expo Exhibition opening from 9 am – 2 pm at the NTT XC Interact centre with over 20 curated exhibits showcasing the latest innovations from NTT. A welcome reception follows that evening at City View at Metreon.

On April 11th: the Expo exhibition is open from noon to 3pm and then, concurrently, a keynote general session 9:45 am – 11:45 am is presented at City View at Metreon with breakout sessions to follow from 12:15 pm – 3:10 pm on the following topics:

  • Security and privacy
  • AI and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Internet of Light Powered by IOWN

What is IOWN? 

As we have explained before, NTT’s IOWN concept is a network and information processing infrastructure for high-speed, large-capacity communications and enormous computing resources achieved by optimising each piece of information and using technologies including light to build photonics-based technologies that feature in everything from networks to terminals with low power consumption, high quality, large capacity and low delay transmission.

Gomi san, Shimada san

At the event itself, NTT Research president and CEO Kazuhiro Gomi will detail discussions surrounding fundamental research’s impact on technology and touch on NTT work on display at the event such as optical devices, medical technology and NTT’s Large Language Model (LLM), Tsuzumi and introduce a keynote by Disney/Pixar veteran Matthew Luhn.

He will also introduce an opening reception with a welcome from NTT CEO Akira Shimada.

Bang the Tsuzumi 

The work related to Tsuzumi (the name refers to a type of Japanese drum) covers demos of Tsuzumi-powered contact centres. There are also scheduled demos designed to explain the workings of personalised sound zones and interfaces designed for severely handicapped persons; artificial photosynthesis and new approaches to reducing CO2; autonomous closed-loop (medical) intervention system; and a security, privacy and integrity protection platform. 

Day two of this event features two additional panel discussions.

The first, on the bio-digital twin initiative, features NTT Research Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) lab director Joe Alexander, Circulatory System Research Foundation Director Kenji Sunagawa and Microsoft Research chief medical scientist Junaid Bajwa. The second, on basic research, features NTT Venture Capital (VC) Founding Partner Vab Goel, NTT senior executive vice president CTO Katsuhiko Kawazoe and NTT Research president Kazuhiro Gomi. 

NTT Research Head of Partner Strategy Al Emondi will then share lessons learned at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). To close out the morning, 

Afternoon breakout tracks on will feature presentations from NTT researchers, subject matter experts and ecosystem partners. These talks will address some of the questions related to the ‘Upgrade Reality’ theme: How will the photonics and optical technologies improve and define the next generation with a more secure and sustainable world? How do we navigate AI, with its ethical and energy-consumption issues? What steps do businesses need to take to ensure that their and their customers’ data remain private, functional and secure?

NTT Research says it invites business leaders, students, academics, researchers and journalists to attend, as well as NTT customers, employees, partners and stakeholders. 

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