Finally, IP for Broadcast is Coming

  The state of American broadcasting stations was discussed at the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association Digital Net Research Society.

  It seems that IP (Internet Protocol) was the keyword at the last National Broadcasting Association (NAB). Apparently "IP conversion for broadcasting systems” is finally coming.

 There are various levels to IP based broadcasting stations, including broadcasting systems, net distribution, and the sales / business / management model, but it has finally come the center of the broadcasting system.

  Up until now, a video signal format called SDI (Serial Digital Interface) has been used for the transmission of broadcasts, but this is being completely replaced by IP. The trend is towards the cloud, and an integration of broadcast and telecommunication. 

 This is similar to the  world of telecommunications, where in the past 20 years there has been a switch from telephone to the net, from switchboard to router, and from circuit switching to packets.
 Especially ABC in the US, is promoting a system conversion to IP and the cloud. During the transition period, capital investment is burdensome but subsequent costs are dramatically reduced. There is even the view that the total cost will be cut in half. If ABC succeeds it may be like an avalanche that spreads to each station.

 When the broadcast system is outsourced to the cloud by IP, broadcasting, distribution, VOD and social correspondence can be handled as one unit, thus the broadcasting station will cease to be a broadcasting station, and become a station capable of production and editing content. But the preparation and strategy for such a change is being questioned.

 Surely, one part of the strategy is to operate the system without outsourcing, so that hardware and software can be developed in synthesis with one another. But this is an option that will probably contribute to higher costs and security risks than depending on specialists in those areas.

 This wave will of course come to Japan. But this is a tsunami that does not even compare to the  communications and broadcast convergence 20 years ago, the net convergence of 10 years ago, or the arrival of the smart TV 5 years ago. How should Japanese broadcasting stations confront this wave?

  Actually, in Japan broadcasters who have seen the truth are deepening their research on this topic, and manufacturers are also preparing themselves for a more serious approach to sales. Even at "IPDC Forum", where I am a representative, this air is gradually seeping in.

  In the case of the convergence of communications and broadcast, the distribution of television programs on the Internet was an important factor. Now this is something we take for granted, but at one time this was considered a threat to broadcasting stations, and even discussing it was considered potentially damaging to their business model.

 This is to say nothing of the way IP conversion will rewrite the system. Even at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications roundtable meeting ten years ago, discussions were held with an "all IP era of broadcasting" in mind, but there was strong opposition from the television industry. Even from the perspective of industries involved in the expansion of the internet, it was a nuisance and a terrible prospect for the future.

  However, such changes in system technology are inevitable, and as the Internet was for the communications industry, the change will be rapid when it gets going. So let's keep an eye on the trends.


Can we plan for an age in which people live to 100?

Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott’s The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity (Japanese title: LIFE SHIFT). An instruction manual, written by professors of the London Business School, on how to weather an age in which the average life expectancy is 100. Because things like asset management, financial planning, and family planning are weak points of mine, I read this with a focus on relevance to IT, IoT, and AI.

It is said that from now on, labor in cooperative ecosystems between smaller businesses, the sharing economy, the blending of work and leisure, the concentration of cities, and the increasing demand for smart cities will continue.

These are all brought about by computerization and automation. There isn’t likely to be a special link between these things and the extension of life expectancy to 100 through advances in medical technology. They just happen to coincide.

But because they coincide, the use of time will become a problem. In the 1930s, Keynes pointed out that, as economies became wealthier, free time would increase, and the use of this time would become an issue for humanity. After that, although free time did increase, people still felt pressed for time. The tendency is for people to work longer the higher their salary is.

I agree with two points in this book. First, the argument that the internet of things and AI will create new forms of employment, so we should welcome the shift of manufacturing to robots. I think so too.

Still, the book suggested that people do work that has an advantage. I think that the work people have an advantage at is killing time. Robots aren’t likely to be good at killing time. “If I’m not busy, switch me off!” they might say. What Keynes thought would be a problem is actually an advantage.

The real problem of this age will be the concentration and inequality of wealth. I think the problem won’t be production so much as it will be distribution. Basic Income may become an important theme.

The other point I agree with is that social links and knowledge will become economically more important than tangible assets. This too is the effect of information technology and social media rather than a consequence of the era of 100-year lifespans. In particular, I think that what one can obtain socially, i.e. human relationships, will be more powerful than what one can obtain through information technology, i.e. information.

Information (e.g. skills, abilities) is a means to obtain assets (i.e. economic value). The means for obtaining information is changing over from education to information technology. On the other hand, society will move towards a situation in which economic value comes to be shared along axes of relationships between friends, which involve trust and evaluation.

However, this book looks at things like personal connections, human relations, and reputation as factors of production and treats them as a “means” in the same way that information is. But I think that human relationships (i.e. the social world) are an end goal and not a means.  

 I think, in fact, that it used to be the case that people made human relationships and reputation the goal of their lives rather than having property centered around information as their goal. That is, couldn’t we escape from this modern era to the past by using technology to strengthen our ties, be less busy, and extend our lives?

 This book says that in the U.S. in the 1880s, half of all people in their 80s worked. I think the era of 100-year lifespans will be like this. This, too, may be a form of returning to the past.

 The book also makes the case that we won’t be able to predict the consistency of life or the growth of the economy from now on. This is also unrelated to the era of 100-year lifespans, but it’s a warning to people that they should get ready to live longer under uncertain conditions. The younger generation seems pretty good at living flexibly and however they see fit, even without having this explained to them by adults.

Really, though: is lacking the possibility of forecasting growth and stability the sole province of a single generation in a developed nation like the one a business school professor (i.e. me) lives in? When I was born 55 years ago, they could foresee a fairly stable and growing future for Japan, but the generation 55 years before that was born after the Russo-Japanese war into a life with earthquakes, a depression, incidents, war, defeat, and restoration.

 Since self-awareness is important for coping with upheaval, and what supports self-awareness is education, this book argues that online education MOOCs are significant. I also agree with this. However, what’s important here is not the behavior of the provider of education but instead the willingness of the user who studies. We should organize an environment that supports the ambition to learn.  

The authors’ observation that existing educational institutions are driven not to lose in their competition with MOOCs is a manifestation of their sense of an impending crisis. While this sense is correct, at the same time it looks like we can expect situations in which the MOOCs will win. I expect that education using information technology, including MOOCs, will completely overturn the educational environment.

In the preface to the Japanese edition, Japan is noted as a trailblazing model because it is the first nation to achieve longevity and an aged society. I certainly hope that we can live up to the expectations.