Society 5.0 is the vision of a new Super Smart Society, introduced by Japan. It is a fully integrated, human-centered, data-driven, equitable society that balances economic advancement with the resolving of social challenges. It uses Big Data, Machine Learning, AI and the Internet of Things to drive next-generation technologies that seamlessly simplify daily life, overcome global problems, (aims to) solve each one of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by 2030 and create a community functioning at an elevated level. It is a society that is smart about its resources, is global in its mindset and is collectively built by all players in the economy. It is a society that creates equal opportunities, values accountability and serves humanity as a whole.
We are contributing to the building of Society 5.0, wherever we go.
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This is the story of Man and the Tree (and where CSR fits into history).
Society 4.0 brought information and insights. It also brought a need for accountability giving rise to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Doing Good while Doing Business.
Society 5.0 builds upon that but uses data from many different sources to gain understanding like never before. It is an integrated society where everything is connected. It is a merging of the physical and the cyber world that allows us to make super smart choices. A tree isn’t a tree anymore. It is a key player in our ecosystem.
- We crowdfund to launch a tree planting project in a fragile environment.
- We use drones to plant a thousand trees a day.
- We impart forestry stewardship skills and create opportunities for employment.
- We gather data to create and monitor optimal growth environments.
- We use Big Data, Machine Learning and AI to collate streams of diverse information into predictive analytics that pinpoints where forest fires are likely to break out, allowing preventative maintenance.
- We use data in all its forms to fulfill the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Society 5.0 doesn’t try to marry Business with Doing Good. Doing Good is intrinsic to Business and we balance business growth with solving social challenges. It is a society that has reached the next level of using data for a global common good.
The author of the chapter on Japan in the last UNESCO Science Report (2015), Professor Yasushi Sato from Niigata University, explains why both the government and business leaders have high hopes for the Society 5.0 strategy.
Japan as a whole seems to be increasingly committed to the vision of Society 5.0. Why? Behind the growing zeal for Society 5.0, there appears to be an ardent wish on the part of the Japanese government and business community to seize this golden opportunity to reverse lingering adverse trends. The economy grew by less than 2% in 2017 for the sixth year in a row. As recalled by the UNESCO Science Report (2015), Japan has experienced prolonged economic stagnation since the 1990s, owing to a combination of factors: ever-intensifying global competition, the changing structure of value creation in the new digital economy, depopulation and ageing, and growing fiscal pressure from rising government expenditure on social security.
Japan might be able to overcome such disadvantages by pursuing Society 5.0. Even though Japan has not been much of a leading light in digital industries so far, the nation may be able to take advantage of its traditional strengths in mechanical and material engineering to develop advanced cyberphysical systems. By actively introducing AI into the workplace, depopulation and ageing might cease to be disadvantages – or even become advantages – in a less labour-intensive economy.
Japan is facing some tough problems but the government and business leaders see the concept of Society 5.0 as being a way to overcome these. They reason that Japan might then be in a position to share its own experience with the rest of the world, given that other countries may encounter similar problems sooner or later. Already, Japan is not the only high-income country facing an ageing population and sluggish demographic growth, while struggling to compete in the new digital economy.
Society 5.0 isn’t a strategy for a specific kind of economy or for a specific area of the world. It is a vision of what a Super Smart Society can achieve to solve the challenges of the world. Those challenges may differ from continent to continent, but we now have the technology to address the unique challenges of each to create opportunity for all.
That is the very reason why we are in particular so excited about what Society 5.0 could mean for Africa. We have a clean slate from where to start. How can we employ data and next-generation technologies to solve the problems of unemployment, lack of infrastructure and lack of connectivity prevalent in Africa? Isn’t technology going to be the catalyst for growth?
We believe we are the people we’ve been waiting for.
Want to join us as we build this new society?