The Inamori Foundation announced the names of those who would be honored with this years annual Kyoto Prizes—Japan’s highest private award for global achievement. Among the winners were an American, who is widely thought of as the father of computer graphics, and Indian literary critic, and a molecular cell biologist from Japan. At a ceremony in Kyoto this November each of those honored will receive a diploma, a gold Kyoto Prize medal, and a 50 million yen cash prize ($630,000).
American computer scientist Ivan Sutherland will be awarded the technology prize. In 1963 Sutherland developed an important graphics interface program known as “Sketchpad,” which allowed users to point a device at a screen to manipulate figures—this device also allowed people to use computers without having to remember a lot of complicated programming commands. Japanese molecular biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi of the Tokyo Institute of Technology won the basic sciences prize for his role in helping to develop autophagy, a very important cell-recycling system, which could lead to the development of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other maladies associated with aging.
Gayatri Chakrovoty Spivak, an Indian literary critic and professor at Columbia University, will receive the prize for arts and philosophy. Spivak’s work focuses on those who often find themselves on the periphery of Western culture, immigrants, women, and the working class. Her essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” about the economically dispossessed, is highly regarded in the literary world. The Inamori Foundation is a charitable organization that was founded in 1984 by Kazuo Inamori, the man behind the Japanese electronics firm Kyocera Corp.