First was Revolution 4.0. Then Society 5.0. Then COVID-19.

Rewind to 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 started as Japan’s attempt to build on Industry 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.” AI, investment and UN goals Society 5.0 built 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 was bold and simple - placing science, technology and innovation policy front and center in a government-wide vision for Japan’s future. As a result, Japan announced its Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy in March 2017.

Society 5.0 certainly upped the ante. 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. China responded by pledging to dominate the AI landscape by 2030, US Executive Order 13859 announced the American AI Initiative, Britain promised AI investment worth more than $1.2 billion, France $1.6 billion and Germany $3 billio 2025. With Society 5.0, the plan was for AI investment to not only 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 in the AC era As Klaus Schwab described in COVID-19: The Great Reset, we now live in the AC/BC era - after COVID, before COVID. The AC era stunted the entire world's contribution to the UN SDGs, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs concluding COVID-19 had caused:

  • Pressure on SDG Goal 2, via a rise in food insecurity, with 2 billion people facing moderate or severe food insecurity and 132 million left undernourished

  • Likely failure in Goal 3 due to overwhelmed health systems, plus a global maternal mortality ratio still half the rate needed to reduce the target for maternal deaths by 2030.

  • Pressure on Goal 4, due to 90% of students taking classes remotely or not at all, with the pandemic's school closures causing 370 million children lost out on school meals.

  • Goal 5 compromised by some countries seeing a 30% increase in domestic violence.

  • Pressure on Goals 1, 8, and 9 due to 114 million people losing their jobs and 120 million pushed back into extreme poverty.

In effect, we're behind schedule - and if we fail one single UN SDG, we fail them all. There is hope. One positive effect of the pandemic has been an acceleration in digital transformation across the world - we've all worked from home and forgotten to unmute in Zoom calls - with Cristina Bueti from the UN International Telecommunications Union observing that: “Digitalisation has transformed the way we work, study, shop, and socialise during the pandemic." This must be the way forward, Society 5.0's accent on fundamental change happening on a social, technological, environmental and cultural level, with technology serving 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.” Society 5.1 If we're to meet our UN SDG targets, let alone Net Zero, we need to accelerate and extend Society 5.0's original 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.

We need to go further, not only flagging Society 5.0’s need for social consensus, but using every quantum of Industry 4.0 to accent social and ethical implications, even fundamental philosophical questions of happiness and humanity. In the AC era, we need Society 5.1 - human-centered, exponential systems change. At 22i, we have a role in building Society 5.1. Our mission is to deliver real-time AI for a smarter, safer society. Industry-agnostic, we mitigate risk, drive efficiencies and social impact - getting it right first time, every time. We help build the bottom-up infrastructure that creates the superstructure of Society 5.1 (think Japan's Super City program or the EU’s Lighthouse project of 'ruggedised' smart cities). With the AC era showing us that Society 5.1 AI must work for people and planet – at 22i, we've made this our core value, written into our corporate DNA. Industry 4.0 and Society 5.1 – we’re ready, creating tomorrow's world today.

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