First there was Revolution 4.0.

Then Society 5.0.

In 2013, the Japanese Shinzo Abe government issued its first growth strategy, famously consisting of three 'arrows':

  1. Monetary easing.

  2. Fiscal stimulus.

  3. Growth strategy.

Alluding to Japanese folklore and three arrows being harder to break than one, the three-arrow strategy was analyzed by the UN in 2015, which concluded:

“Japan needs to adopt forward-looking policies... and to pursue the necessary reforms to adapt to the changing global landscape.”

Spurred on by the UN challenge, in January 2016, the Japanese government revealed its 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan - introducing the concept of Society 5.0 and the complete transformation of Japan into a “super-smart society”.

In April 2016, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) extended this theme by pledging to pivot “Toward realization of the new economy and society.


Society 5.0 is Japan’s attempt to build on Revolution 4.0 by incorporating technological innovation into a new economic model and social contract:

“We aim at creating a society where we can resolve various social challenges by incorporating the innovations of the fourth industrial revolution (e.g. IoT, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), robot, and the sharing economy) into every industry and social life. By doing so the society of the future will be one in which new values and services are created continuously, making people’s lives more comfortable and sustainable.
“This is Society 5.0, a super-smart society. Japan will take the lead to realize this ahead of the rest of the world.”

Society 5.0 builds on previous iterations of society:

  • Society 1.0: Hunter gatherer.

  • Society 2.0: Agrarian.

  • Society 3.0: Industrial.

  • Society 4.0: Information.

  • Society 5.0: A 'cyberphysical system', powered by digital tech in every aspect of Japanese life and culture.

The hypothesis is bold and simple - placing science, technology and innovation policy front and center in a government-wide vision for Japan’s future.


As part of its Society 5.0 strategy, Japan announced its Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy in March 2017. This foresaw three phases of AI evolution in health, mobility and productivity:

  1. Expanding data-driven AI into every service domain.

  2. Pervasive use of AI and data across services.

  3. The creation of complex, new ecosystems via the merger of services.

In August 2019, the Japanese government announced a $1.4 billion injection into The Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, with eventual investment in AI and big data expected to grow beyond $4 billion.

AI investment is not only expected to address the lingering Japanese problems of pollution and an ageing population but, in evoking a full and permanent national transformation, to also make a major contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Society 5.0 certainly ups the ante.

In 2017, China responded by pledging to dominate the AI landscape by 2030.

In April 2018, the British government announced AI investment worth more than $1.2 billion. Later that month, the French announced an AI plan including $1.6 billion in funding, new research centers, data-sharing initiatives and ethical guidelines.

In November 2018, the German federal government officially adopted its Artificial Intelligence Strategy. A year later, it announced $3 billion AI investment to 2025, including the creation of at least 100 new AI professorships, improved research, education and training.

Where Japan’s Society 5.0 goes further, however, is its deeper play on a social, technological, environmental and cultural level. Technology will explicitly be there to help people, not vice versa:

“Big Data collected by IoT will be converted into a new type of intelligence by AI and will reach every corner of society. As we move into Society 5.0 all people’s lives will be more comfortable and sustainable as people are provided with only the products and services in the amounts and at the time needed.”

Extending this theme, Hitachi - the Japanese corporate leviathan and Fortune 500 brand - has announced that Society 5.0 must be part of ‘Aiming for a New Human-Centered Society’.

Remarkably, the Japan Business Federation has taken this theme even further - not only flagging Society 5.0’s need for social consensus, but also accenting social and ethical implications, even fundamental philosophical questions of happiness and humanity.

The ambition’s bold. The vision, total.

At 22i, our mission is to deliver real-time AI for a smarter, safer society. Industry-agnostic, we mitigate risk, drive efficiencies and social impact.

If the world seeks to join Japan in Society 5.0, we believe AI must work for people and planet – it’s our core value.

Quite simply, AI and the triple bottom line is what we do.

Revolution 4.0 and Society 5.0 – we’re ready.