Society for East Asian Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper investigates the prospects for a “super-smart” society in Japan and the efforts currently underway to build digital infrastructures to support this vision. The Japanese government has identified digital technologies as having the potential to address dilemmas such as caring for the elderly in an aging society and a shrinking workforce. In 2016, Japan’s “5th Science and Technology Basic Plan” introduced a vision to move towards “Society 5.0,” a super-smart society based on Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Big Data, and robotics that will deploy these technologies to bring about a new type of society optimized by data. Data and data analytics are a crucial form of digital infrastructure that will help realize the super-smart society and I focus on the role of artificial intelligence to analyze increasing quantities of data and derive insights from it. At the same time, a pressing concern for scientists, the private sector, and government officials are the ethical and privacy issues that may arise from making sensors and machine-learning algorithms central to the workings of a digitized society. Japan’s new AI policy proposes to be human-centric, and I critically examine the way in which the uses of AI are envisioned to intersect and respond to social needs and desires.