Japan’s AI Roadmap: How will the AI world look like in the next 10 years?

Japan is one of the most notable tech countries, with plenty of AI and technology adaptations across industries. That’s why Japan is one of the global tech leaders in the world, just like China and the US.

From the Society 5.0 plan, the Japanese government emphasises the necessity of bringing AI to daily use, designing policies and management strategies that make room for technological development and doubling the budget for research and development, particularly in AI and robotics.

Apart from the Society 5.0 plan, Japan has created a detailed AI Roadmap covering from 2017–2030, containing the utilisation and adaptation of AI in three different sectors: Productivity, medical care and welfare, and mobility. The Japanese government anticipates that AI employment in these three sectors could improve Japanese people’ quality of life as a whole.

Sertis would like to take you through the AI Roadmap to see how the AI world would look like in ten years and see if there would be any groundbreaking innovations to expect. As Japan is one of the global tech leaders, this roadmap could somehow reflect the development and direction of AI at the international level. Be prepared!

The purpose of this AI roadmap is to elevate society with AI. As a tech leader, Japan would lead other countries in the same direction. We might be able to anticipate the better lives of both Japanese and the world population.

Japan has divided their AI Roadmap into three phases: 2017–2020, 2020–2025, and 2025–2030. Please be noted that all the periods and innovations are just anticipation. It is possible that more time will be required. We are currently in the transition from phase 1 to phase 2.

The first sector that needs AI usage is Productivity. In the first phase, the plan was to create AI-based products and services, build a Smart Factory using AI and IoT (Internet of things), and apply robotics in the production process, all of which are already seen across Japan and the world.

In phase 2, the plan will be to expand AI usage in production and services in multiple industries, produce AI-based home appliances, increase the efficiency of manufacture and distribution with AI and IoT, and develop multi-function robots that can collaborate with one another. You might already see all of these coming.

In the third phase, the utmost goals are to create a society where AI-based products and services are common, where the focus is shifted from manufacturing to value creation competition, and where the concepts are developed further into real products. Another thing is to go beyond satisfying daily needs to subconscious desire, leading to the novel creation that generates the new values.

Robotics should be so advanced that they could control product qualities. High-quality products are widely available at reasonable prices. AI and IoT industries cooperate to create a zero-waste ecosystem, from production to distribution and usage.

The next sector is medical care and welfare. Japan has been focusing on improving medical care and welfare because Japan is the world’s leading ageing society. By 2030, 40% of the Japanese population will be elder. Medical care and welfare technology will be essential.

In the first phase, AI-assisted medical examination and prescription, AI-aided drug discovery, and machine learning to process healthcare data were developed. Sensors were installed to provide patient care facilities. Telemedicine and robots to support surgery were also developed.

In the second phase, AI technology will allow complete medical checkups at home. Sensors and AI will be utilised for preventive healthcare. There will also be body functions replacement with artificial organs and nanorobots operating inside human bodies. Surgery-assisted robots will be more advanced and nursing robots will provide supervised care services.

For phase 3, Japan’s ultimate goal is to be the leader in medical care and welfare technology. They plan to provide daily advanced preventive medicine by using sensors and AI, leading to a longer and healthier life. AI-based regenerative medicine is available in the forms of advanced transplant and artificial organs replacement. At-home treatment with advanced techniques and nursing robots as a family member will be expected.

The final sector is mobility. Japan is considered one of the leaders in the automotive industry, and that’s why the Japanese government heavily focuses on developing mobility technologies.

In the first phase, Japan focused on developing AI driving assistance for routes, environment and traffic analysis, just like what we saw in advanced GPS. There were other innovations such as smart drones. Autonomous vehicles were only in the initial stage (Level 1,2), and there was a spread of telecommuting that allowed remote work, which speeded up due to the Covid-19 crisis.

In the second phase, autonomous cars will progress to levels 3–4, and autonomous transportation such as platooning will be available. Telecommuting will be improved to the level of having cyberspace that simulates physical space, as seen in Gather, a virtual office platform that we can create our own Avatar. Lastly, there will be virtual tourism utilising VR technologies.

In the final phase, the ultimate goal of Japanese mobility is to employ AI for safe and free travel and create value-added travel that provides maximised comfort and additional experiences, in other words, to make travel more than just a commute. Travel will be more accessible by reducing the number of people who have difficulty travelling. It will also be safer by eliminating accidents caused by human errors. Transportation time and energy will be minimised as much as possible. For telecommuting, there will be a fusion of cyber and physical space to create near-realistic remote work along with seamless full-scale virtual tourism.

Here are some anticipations in Japan’s AI roadmap that are worth expecting. Some of them already happened, while some are so promising. If all of this happens, the quality of both Japanese and world population life will surely be better. Stay tuned!

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