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Embracing the Sea Change: Over a Hundred Experts Gather in Okinawa for PNC 2023 to Discuss Post-Pandemic Trends in Digital Humanities

Date: 2023-11-07

The Pacific Neighborhood Consortium (PNC) 2023 Annual Conference and Joint Meetings concluded successfully on November 5th at the University of the Ryukyus in Japan. The conference, themed “Sea Change: Renewal, Reform and Resolve in Global Arts, Sciences, and Business,” spanned three days and brought together over a hundred experts and scholars from seven countries and regions, including Taiwan, Japan, the United States, South Korea, Switzerland, Australia, and Hong Kong, to discuss post-pandemic trends in Digital Humanities.

PNC, established in 1993, aims to facilitate information exchange and cross-domain collaboration among countries in the Pacific Rim. At the end of 1997, its headquarters relocated from the University of California, Berkeley, to Academia Sinica. This year marks the 30th anniversary of PNC, and President James C. Liao of Academia Sinica stated that fields such as Artificial Intelligence and Digital Humanities are undergoing unprecedented and remarkable changes and developments. Over the years, PNC has gathered and shared the pulse of information trends, actively promoting knowledge exchange, which will be the crucial foundation for humanity to address the next wave of digital challenges.

Chin-Shing Huang, Chair of PNC and Vice President of Academia Sinica, revealed the significance of the theme "Sea Change" during the opening ceremony. He pointed out that this theme not only matches Okinawa's ocean impression but also symbolizes the perfect timing to explore innovative reforms in the post-pandemic era. Furthermore, Hsi-Yuan Chen, the CEO of PNC and Director of Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures, mentioned a significant increase in paper and poster submissions this year as countries gradually ease pandemic-related restrictions, signaling a strong resurgence of in-person academic activities.

Three Keynote Speeches Spotlighting Trends in Digital Humanities

This year's conference featured three captivating keynote speeches. On the first day, Professor Mamoru Akamine of Meio University's Graduate School of International Cultural Studies, who has devoted over thirty years to researching the history of relations between China and the Ryukyu Kingdom, delivered a lecture titled "Concept Plan for an Integrated Search System of Ryukyu Kingdom Historical Information." Professor Akamine highlighted the precious historical records of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which suffered significant damage during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II. These valuable materials are currently scattered across various locations, including Okinawa, mainland Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, and Hawaii. To address this dispersion, he has been dedicated to developing an "Integrated Search System of Ryukyu Kingdom Historical Information." This system aims to facilitate cross-border and cross-database integrated searches and digital resource sharing. Moreover, it serves the purpose of comprehensive research and the preservation of Ryukyu Kingdom's historical and cultural heritage.

Addressing global marine conservation issues, the second-day keynote speech was delivered by Kwang-Tsao Shao, Emeritus Research Fellow of the Biodiversity Research Center at Academia Sinica. His presentation, titled "Tides for Changing: Global Trends in Marine Conservation & Challenges in Taiwan" shed light on the pressing concerns related to overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and more. Dr. Shao emphasized the importance of promoting renewable energy sources, like Offshore Wind Farms (OWF), advanced monitoring systems, and nature-based solutions, including the enlargement and enforcement of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). He also shared the latest developments in Taiwan's marine policies and outlined future directions.

Object Detection, applied in fields such as traffic monitoring, smart agriculture, sports, healthcare, and more, has become an indispensable technology in modern life. On the last day, Hong-Yuan Mark Liao, Distinguished Research Fellow and the Director of the Institute of Information Science at Academia Sinica, presented "From YOLOv4 to YOLOv7," and shared the insights about making object detection models lighter, faster, and more accurate. He narrated that the development of their AI Real-time Object Detection Model, YOLOv4, began with an industry-academic collaboration project. In 2020, shortly after its release, YOLOv4 outperformed Google in the MS COCO dataset object detection competition, securing the top position globally. Subsequently, the model was further enhanced with ELAN (Efficient Layer Aggregation Networks), YOLOR (You Only Learn One Representation), and BOF (Bag-of-Freebies). In 2022, YOLOv7, a more lightweight and efficient model was unveiled, surpassing other state-of-the-art object detection models and establishing itself as a global leader in this field.

Unprecedented Surge in Paper and Poster Submissions, Academia Sinica Shines in Publishing and Research

The number of academic paper and poster submissions this year has surged two to three times compared to the previous year. Over the three-day event, there were nineteen paper presentation sessions covering diverse topics, such as “The Metaverse for Digital Humanities Research,” “Media Consumption Trend in the Modern World,” “Digital Humanities and Machine Learning,” “Climate Change and the Changing Seas and Land.” Additionally, the Poster Competition and Poster Demonstrations displayed nearly twenty recent publications from research teams worldwide, highlighting cutting-edge research achievements in the fields of information technology and interdisciplinary applications.

Furthermore, PNC has maintained an annual collaboration with the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI). This year, ECAI organized six workshops that delve into the historical and developmental contexts of themes such as Buddhism, the wild environment, and curation.

A special collection of sixty-six academic monographs, all published by Academia Sinica and totaling nearly a hundred fifty volumes, was also showcased at the venue. Seven selected digital publications are displayed on electronic screens, along with the latest outcomes of fourteen Digital Humanities Research Projects presented in various formats, including Open Museum exhibitions, posters, and short films. These highlights underscore what Academia Sinica's robust presence in the fields of publishing and digital research. At the closing ceremony's Book Donation event, on behalf of Academia Sinica, Vice President Chin-Shing Huang, presented all exhibited books as gifts to the University of the Ryukyus and Meio University. This Book Donation event further emphasized the collaborative spirit between Taiwan and Japan and also drew 2023 PNC Annual Conference and Joint Meetings to a perfect end.

For the past three decades, PNC has been dedicated to establishing an information-sharing and connectivity platform along the Pacific Rim. Looking ahead, PNC annual conference in the coming year will be hosted by Korea University. Jin-Han Lee, Director of Asiatic Research Institute in Korea University, expressed the commitment to carry forward the ethos of knowledge exchange and once again shed light on the rich and diverse cultural allure of the Pacific Rim region.

PNC 2023 Annual Conference & Joint Meetings (PNC 2023)
Conference Website: https://sites.google.com/view/pnc2023
Conference Program: https://sites.google.com/view/pnc2023/detailed-program

Media Contact Close
  • Ms. Wen-Li Wang, Media & Public Affairs, Secretariat, Academia Sinica

    (02) 2789-9727,cassiew@gate.sinica.edu.tw

  • Ms. Tsuey-Yin Piong, Media & Public Affairs, Secretariat, Academia Sinica

    (02) 2789-8821,fangzi@gate.sinica.edu.tw

  • Ms. Chung-Chun Chang, Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures

    (02) 2652-1885#303,chunchang@mail.ihp.sinica.edu.tw