One day long time ago he and I did some watercolour painting near the Scioto river in Columbus - I don’t even have the picture I made any more, but that’s where I recall this phrase: To be at home where the water is blue. I don’t know if it was my own phrase or his words, but it’s been always what I thought about myself, and it turned out that we thought the same way. We became really good friends then.
I really loved and respected him. Back when his Bell Labs research team was a national treasure, I remember that he was already saying that the biggest obstacle to automated natural language understanding systems was semantics, and how important it was to make progress in basic research on semantics. He had a real breadth of vision for the whole field. And he was such a kind and modest man.
Research is like sorting a large basket of socks. Don’t start by pairing up the black ones. Go for the red socks first.
What is important is “why” not “how”.
Osamu’s family would be honored to receive your memories of things he said. If you would like to add your quote, please email Ty Fujimura.
EMA recording of “Osamu Fujimura”, recorded by Mark Tiede (Haskins Laboratory)