In Search of the Fantasy of a Super Smart Society

  Articles that claim that Japan is falling behind in the competition to develop AI stand out.
American companies like IBM, Google, and Apple are taking the lead in AI research. The Japanese government is holding a conference on “Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy”,but it may be too late.

  Since the fervor around artificial intelligence died down in the 80s Japan has become silent. When I was at the MIT Media Lab at the end of the 90s, the AI advocates were quite active, while interest in AI was waning within Japanese companies.
  Even if we try to light the fire of deep learning again, in these panicked times, this is a contest in which American corporations have invested trillions of yen, so it is no longer at a level that universities can handle by taxation. Japan’s late arrival to the contest is not an issue of a lack of talented people in universities, it is an issue of corporate investment.

  If Japan still has a chance to prevail, they should be more focused on use than development. In the same way that Japanese high school girls have transformed IT /mobile technology via emoticons and photos taken on mobile phones.

 Japan should position themselves as a developed country by introducing new technology related to pop culture and other fields that they excel in or in the fields of welfare, nursing care, or disaster prevention, and produce industry and culture.

  And the government should lead the way to more straightforward use of AI. First of all, the higher officials in the government should be given AI, and show how serious they are about it by using it themselves.

  However, it is important to view AI as a target for investment and sales, but to see it only in that way would be to mistake the general trend.

  It is customary to call AI and IoT the “The 4th Industrial Revolution”  or Industry 4.0. With the previous revolutions being as follows, 1st: Light Industry,  2nd: Heavy Industry,  3rd: Information Industry.

  However, I wonder whether this is really an “industry” revolution. If that were the case you would expect industry to be the first to be reformed, but I think the effect on culture and society are much greater.

 Even if we position IT as the 3rd industrial revolution, was it really an industry revolution for us? Wasn't it more of a cultural revolution? More important than the growth of the IT industry and the industry becoming more IT based, I think a bigger change was the way in which everyone was equipped with, and able to transmit, information.

  If we think of the 17th century industrial revolution as a change that only occurs once in 300 years, I think the information revolution that resulted from IT, was an expression of innovation that only occurs once in a 1000 years. Maybe then AI/IoT is a reformation that humans have yet to achieve, that only occurs once every 10000 years. So wouldn't it be too small a strategy to force it into the category of “industrial”.

  Therefore, alongside the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Government of Japan decided to call their efforts towards a super smart society "Society 5.0". In other words the fifth revolution in civilization following after the 1st: Hunting, 2nd: Agriculture, 3rd: Industry, and 4th: Information.

  Recently, a telecommunications white paper from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications focused on the surplus IT consumers. The value of IT cannot be measured by GDP. Even if the sales of the industry do not increase, the effect on user's money, time, and psychology are considerable. Which means that it exceeds the value of an industry, and we are faced with the question of how to view it as civilization, which involves society and culture.

  It's less a matter of how AI will impact investment and sales, and more a matter of what we should expect from AI, and how we can expect AI to shake up society. With that as the index by which I judge this trend, I want to start making countermeasures. However, this effort has only just begun.


Superhuman Sports Dismantles the Barrier Between the Olympics and Paralympics

 Following the Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio, next year the Winter Olympics will be in Pyeongchang.
If an olympiad is a superhuman, then a paralympian is also a superhuman. In the Paralympics, there are many contests which involve wheelchairs or artificial legs. The tools that handicapped people use allow them to come closer to what it’s like to be an able-bodied person, they bring a minus closer to zero.

 Gold medalist Markus Rehm of Germany leaped 8m40cm at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, held in Doha, Qatar. The gold medal at the Rio Olympics was for 8m38cm. Paralympians are already exceeding Olympians. The day when the Paralympic Games exceeds the Olympic Games is coming.

  The pioneer was Oscar Pistorius who has two artificial legs. In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the judgment of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and Pistorius was approved for participation in the “Olympics”.
At the London Olympics he competed in the men's 400m and 4x400m relay. At the Paralympics immediately after, he competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 4x100m relays. He competed in both the Olympic and Paralympic games.

  And, the artificial legs of both Pistorius and Rehm were considered cool. People with artificial legs are no longer pitiable, but their artificial limbs are a testament to these admirable, bright, strong men and women.

  “There is no longer a barrier separating the Olympics and the Paralympics. So why don’t we combine the Olympics and Paralympics into one competition.” “Wait, that wouldn’t be fair. Even if the human body is inferior to machines, there is worth in a competition restricted to the unadorned body. We should keep them separate.”

“Eyeglasses correct your vision. They are a tool to aid people with bad eyesight. But those who wear glasses are still allowed to participate in the Olympics. If that’s the case, what’s wrong with taking corrective measures for the limbs?”
“Wait a second, this is different from one's sense of hearing or sense of sight. Glasses have become so commonplace that they are even used just as a fashion accessory.  The status of artificial limbs is completely different.”

  This is not an easy debate. It’s all well and good for the Paralympics to exceed the Olympics, but it’s possible that the other softer barriers that were overlooked on the way to that aim, will only become harder.

  Rehm originally was hoping to take part in the Rio Olympics, but he was not given the OK so he ended up competing in the Paralympics. Due to “political circumstances” Rehm had to abandon his hopes of competing in the Olympics, in other words he was impeded by the barrier of regulations.

  He said that, “I think that if we try to gradually change the current situation where the Olympics and Paralympics are completely separate, new possibilities and aspirations might come into view.” I agree with him.

   However, in the current situation, from our perspective, paralympians are the ones who have attained the status of a privileged class. Because if you look at Olympians as naked superhumans, and Paralympians as machine-enhanced superhumans, we can participate in the former but not the latter.

   The door to the Olympics is open to any able-bodied person who wants to participate, but if you can’t become a superhuman you will have to give up on participating. But with the Paralympics, you can’t participate as an able-bodied person, and paralympians are currently the most formidable of superhumans. This is unfair.

  There are some events such as wheelchair basketball where participation is allowed. But, if you want to compete with an artificial leg like Rehm, your only option is to cut your leg off. You could cut it off, but that's not very satisfying.

  That is probably because the Olympic sports are based on ancient sports and the sports of agrarian societies. Let’s repurpose sports for the 21st century and the information age. Lets design a new kind of sports from scratch, so that the able-bodied, the disabled, men and women, young and old, olympians, and paralympians, far and wide can all participate under the same rules.

  Drone races, bubble jumper, HADO, Chariott, Hover Crosse...We at the Superhuman Sports Society are developing games that will dismantle the barrier between the Olympic and Paralympic games. Looking forward to the Tokyo 2020 we are focusing all of our strength on this task. We hope you’ll look forward to our results.


2045 Future Learning Adult Section

  “2045 Ideathon on Learning in the Future, Adult Section.”
Held the morning after the children's section, and organized by Digital Textbook Teaching Council (DiTT), in cooperation with the NPO, "CANVAS". We had various kinds of people participate, from teachers, related industries, to ordinary people.

Just like with the children we started by asking, “What are the current problems with schooling?”
“The education gap.” “A lack of creativity.” “Bullying.” “Teacher shortage.” “The classes are not interactive.” “Standardization.” “The weak ties to society.” “A lack of discretion” “Regional disparities.” “Sharing of work with cram schools.”
...we got many replies.

  Four groups offered proposals.
First, “A virtual sharehouse.” The creation of a virtual community where you can learn the things you want to learn with others.
That would mean the re-emergence of Edo-period Buddhist temple schools through IT. This is a proposal that we could enact immediately without waiting for 2045.

 “Database platform.” “A style of education where you teach information all at once.” Where you accommodate the interests and experiences of each student into your approach to teaching.
→That would mean that a teacher's role would change from distributing knowledge to support and facilitation.

  And then, “Robot communication.” A system of learning in coexistence with robots, based on a new three principles along the lines of “Robots cannot harm humans.”
→Considering that the children proposed “one robot per child”, this is an indispensible item.
  Now, in comparison to the children's section, these responses are much more mature. There are no proposals such as,  “A crayon that can color in the air.” “The strongest suit.” “A slide that will take you too and from school.” Or any similar proposal that would surely be a problem for the engineers. Nor any proposals that would cause problems for teachers like, “A school without classes.” or “A school without teachers.”

  To that extent, there were many proposed education environments that seem like they could be developed immediately, without waiting for 2045. Everyone who participated in this event was so optimistic that it made me want to say, “Let’s do these things now.”
  However, outside of the proposals that we gathered, there were also a lot of ideas that made me think “I see, I’d like to give this some more consideration.” For example with, "One person and one database." It will probably be important to collect academic history, and interesting items etc. accrued over a lifetime in a database that could be used for data matching and by big data.

  If it were possible to download information to the brain, one can imagine the kinds of ideas that would be formulated by businesses, for instance, a “100TB/10 million yen Tokyo University pack”.
 →Putting aside the issue of whether that's even possible, we can assume that this would lead to the establishment of an enormous education business. Will the basic free pack be tax exempt?

  There was a woman who expressed the idea that she’d like to “build things with Hitler.”
This is an idea of learning where you interact quasi-virtually with people from history who are antisocial or mysterious. In other words, with people who have strange ideas or ways of life.
→I wonder whether this will be possible in 2045. And I think this idea is worth realizing.
  A related idea is the idea that if we depend on machines to bestow knowledge to us, the learning we need is somewhere else. And that is not just limited to creativity or communication skills, but will give us a stronger will to live.

  There were also people who asked questions such as, “When there is a power outage after a natural disaster, some children continue to play and have fun and other children panic, but what is the difference between these two children?”
and “Where will we derive the will to live, in a society with AI or robots?” These are the kinds of things adults should be thinking about.

 Children could be sent to a marginal village at the age of 10, and then sent  back to school, at 15 they should enter society, re-learn everything, the whole time being supported by AI. Putting aside the pros and cons of such an aim or plan, I share the opinion that we should emphasize,  “re-learning” and “lifelong learning.”

Let’s continue to think about things like these.