Japan's electronic giant Sony has sited a basic research laboratory in the Latin Quarter of Paris because it believes that "in the 21st century, scientific technologies need to co-exist with cultural and artistic activities''.
Sony intends the laboratory - its first for fundamental research in Europe - to work closely with European universities. Headed by Luc Steels of the Free University of Brussels, the laboratory will begin research next year on applied complex systems, advanced human-computer interaction and artistic subjects.
Professor Steels and his team will keep their academic posts.
An expert on artificial intelligence, Professor Steels has been working on language and is expected to make it one of the points of departure for research.
"The computer of tomorrow must improve the quality of life for people in every possible way, evolve with people and their society, taking the culture of users into account. That is why we need to know what people think, how they think and how they speak'', he explained.