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Messages from Keidanren Executives December, 2018 Maximizing the value of Society 5.0 through the power of ICT

Nobuhiro ENDO Vice Chair of the Board of Councillors, Keidanren
Chairman of the Board, NEC Corporation

When I talk to you about creating values in information and communications technology (ICT), I always start with the following story:

"ICT is composed of three components, namely, computing power, network, and software solutions, which enable three important functions, namely, real-time, dynamic, and remote functions. Combining these components and functions create significant values for human society. Dynamic function refers to the ability to offer value by dynamically generating solutions through the collection and analysis of a large amount of data. Remote function refers to the ability to offer value equally, beyond spatial limitations, such as through telemedicine, distance education, and e-government services. The value offered by real-time function is particularly substantial. For example, computer processing that took one year in 1995, the year that mobile phones switched to digital transmission, now takes only around 15 seconds, and the transmission of data contained in one CD, which then took 150 hours, can now be completed in only 0.5 seconds. Indeed, humans gained the power to overcome the limitations of time and space within only the last 25 years."

AI, as a value-creation tool that fully leverages the power of ICT, gathers massive, high-quality data in cyberspace to offer the most optimum solutions to problems in human society. Society 5.0, I believe, is the embodiment of the sustainable society that will come about by making full use of AI.

Fully enjoying the value of AI, however, requires putting in place mechanisms for accommodating and harnessing those optimum solutions within human society. For example, the application of AI in a certain hospital enables "optimization of hospital operations," but if hospitals collaborate to apply AI on a wider framework and share data to generate totally optimized solutions, then they can achieve the even greater value of "healthcare optimization."

Thus, although AI can create value through total optimization, the magnitude of the value depends on the extent of human society's understanding of the value of total optimization, and on how aggressively the creation of frameworks to accommodate and expand the scope of optimization is pursued. In other words, the success of Society 5.0 lies in how we are able to design the scope of the optimization provided by AI and how we are able to create superior values from it.

This task is entrusted to us, who make up the human society.