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Our world has gone through many transformations, and technology is accelerating these transitions. We started as a hunting society (Society 1.0), transitioned to an agricultural society (Society 2.0), moved to an industrial society (Society 3.0), and then to an information society (Society 4.0).
Our digital world has gone through a tremendous transformation as computing has evolved. Today, it is commonplace to share information through the cloud, as almost all companies have moved to a cloud-first IT model.
This “information-first” model allows sharing of information, but in a way that is often awkward and must be analyzed by humans. Different cloud-based systems don’t readily talk to each other. For example, during the pandemic, there were issues around the transportation and availability of valuable parts and products. Companies had to experience pain before they could devise solutions—moving manufacturing, increasing the production of certain parts, and decreasing the production of other parts, etc. Very little of this was forecast, and the disruption was major.
We’ve learned from this disruption, and that’s why we believe in moving to Society 5.0, a super-smart society. Society 5.0, proposed by the Fifth Science and Technology Basic Plan as a future society that Japan should aspire to, is a great idea for the USA and the rest of the world.
First of all, let’s talk about what this is NOT. It is not computers taking over the world and doing everything for us. That’s very important in this vision. Humans must remain the central actors. This is a society where every person is empowered and successful, and we’re not controlled by robots. While in the past, innovation has been driven by technology, in the future, we must focus on how to build a society that makes us happy and provides a sense of worth.
Instead, it’s about having technology, nature, and people operate in balance. Society 5.0 will work hard to be forward-thinking, breaking down the existing sense of stagnation, a society whose members have mutual respect for each other, and a society in which every person leads a good life.
The plan for Society 5.0 actively aims to resolve many of our modern challenges by incorporating innovations such as robotics, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), new communications capabilities (6G), and big data. We are moving towards a convergence of connectivity, computing, control, and content.
While technology roared forward in Society 4.0 with few checks, the goal of Society 5.0 is to meet the greater good by using technology to make us all better. Measures such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, increasing demands for energy, environmental losses of foodstuffs, mitigation of costs associated with an aging society, redistribution of wealth, and corrections of regional inequality all need to be taken into account.
Achieving these great goals will present many challenges. Digital transformation is hard. Legacy digital systems must be opened up and scaled to meet multiple requirements and ensure effective communication. If you want to reduce time to market, we need to make your transition as easy as possible. There has to be a better way than the way we have been doing it until now, but it will require fundamental change.
When these systems learn to work together, the possibilities for Society 5.0 are great, unlocking huge potential. Imagine if our hardware was already enabled to run on the IoT and communicate quickly. Hardware could easily be controlled from remote locations. If software applications were open and interoperable, companies wouldn’t be locked into solutions from one company and could easily integrate best practices.
We’re already seeing the start of this transition. Companies have started to use Cadence software to create digital twins—basically, electronic replicas of their physical environments—to simulate and innovate with new features before those features are installed to ensure the best results. Researchers are exploring and defining 6G technologies.
We need a commitment to openness and simplicity with standard APIs to make it easier to try things out. Partners must collaborate, so the real world works much better, and we reach new levels of sustainability.
When we combine the real and digital worlds, we can achieve new levels of flexibility and help our society grow in a good way.