U.S. computer pioneer Alan Kay has joined the judging panel of a government program aimed at promoting the creation of state-of-the-art software, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Monday.

METI hopes Kay, 61, president of the Viewpoint Research Institute in California, will be able to unearth new talent in the field, ministry officials said.

A ministry official described Kay as a genius and voiced hope that he would be able to identify this quality in those who apply for the program.

In the 1960s, Kay propounded the notion of small computers that could be used easily by individuals. This concept is generally viewed as the basic inspiration for the PCs of today.

Under the program, the government will provide computer experts with between 5 million yen and 30 million yen each to develop groundbreaking software.

The applicants will not be screened by all 11 judges on the panel. Each judge will select his or her own applications and will be responsible for the applicants in question in terms of development progress and product evaluation.

The ministry started accepting applications on Monday.

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