From the Agenda of the World Economic Forum 2019: Society 5.0

January 23, 2019
LASTING Sphinx IT Society 5.0 Industry 4.0

If Industry 4.0 becomes increasingly familiar to the business entities everywhere, its Japan-originated (somewhat similar), Society 5.0 counterpart still may need an introduction.

The core idea is that human society is moving from its 4th stage (the Information Society), into the 5th one – branded the Imagination Society.

*To establish the correspondence between the two systems, while the society was in the 1st and 2nd stages (the Hunting Society and Agrarian Society), industry hasn’t yet been invented. When it appeared, it managed to make it from Industry 1.0 to Industry 3.0 while societies went from stage 3 to stage 4 (the Industrial Society, and the Information Society). As logically understandable, humans were here before industry, therefore the difference in stages.

(We took the liberty of assembling the two concepts’ timelines in an intended visual aid for the subject – starting from two images that are the most circulated online on Society 5.0, respectively Industry 4.0).


Which one triggers which? An industry-society question with variable answers


The timeline should make it obvious. At first, the human society evolved until the stage industry appeared. Afterwards, industry took charge and shaped societies. Following system-specific patterns and rules, when reaching the point of transformation, industry triggered the next new societal phenomenon.

It seems like Industry 4.0 is the one generating Society 5.0. However, things are more complicated than this.

Also dubbed “super-smart society”, Society 5.0 is a vision shared by Japan in 2016, presented to the Western European world in 2017 (at CeBIT 2017), which has now reached the WEF Agenda.

As a highly advanced economy, facing challenges that for others are yet looming on the horizon, such as natural disasters or the increasingly ageing population, Japan came up with an “ambitious societal – digital-transformation plan”.

So industry in its current stage does not organically transform societies, but there will be changes to implement in order to align the human environment with the industrial one in a (hopefully) smooth way.

It seems that other economies also aspire towards the same outcomes, while gradually facing similar issues. As a consequence, Society 5.0 moves into the global space and meets the Industry 4.0. Debates and decisions of worldwide impact will be made by taking both into account.


Society 5.0 in short


We went to the Japanese Government website for a definition. It goes like this: Society 5.0 is “a human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space”.

Unlike the current informatics society we live in, where humans decide upon the digital-delivered insights, then input the decisions back into digital systems (and not only), the smart society of the future will allow machines to run the full cycle of gathering the raw data, process it, extract the relevant insights and build decisions and actions by themselves.

This means that AI (Artificial Intelligence) – and probably AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) will have capabilities and permissions exceeding those of humans. The outcome of their autonomous activities will be fed back to physical space.

As for the problems to solve, Society 5.0 aims to answer both the future economic and societal challenges faced by humanity at its present and future stage, by using all the advances of Industry 4.0.

In a different take, Japan launched the race for a future model society. Other economies contemplate the perspectives – and it’s highly likely they will join in.

You may see here how the World Economic Forum approaches Society 5.0. WEF pushes forward the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) report on the matter, estimating that this concept can “contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations”.


The essential freedoms of Society 5.0 (as listed by WEF)


People will be liberated from focus on efficiency. Instead, the emphasis will be placed on satisfying individual needs, solving problems and creating value.

People will be able to live, learn and work, free from suppressive influences on individuality, such as discrimination by gender, race, nationality, etc. and alienation because of their values and ways of thinking.

People will be liberated from the disparity caused by the concentration of wealth and information, and anyone will be able to get opportunities to play a part anytime, anywhere.

People will be liberated from anxiety about terrorism, disasters and cyber-attacks, and live with security with strengthened safety nets for unemployment and poverty.

People will be liberated from resources and environmental constraints, and able to live sustainable lives in any region.


The 5 walls to be eliminated when materializing Society 5.0 (as listed by i-scoop, based on the Keidanren report)


The wall of the Ministries and Agencies (purpose achievable by specific strategies, their implementation, by architecting a seamless IoT system and a think-tank function)

The wall of the legal system (purpose achievable by developing and adopting laws to encourage and implement advanced digitization and technologies)

The wall of technologies (purpose achievable by using R&D and actionable data to create a knowledge foundation, compatible resources and by making all technology areas converge)

The wall of human resources (achievable by educational reform, and leveraging the way we accumulate and use knowledge as humans to the way we need to use it in the future digital world)

The wall of social acceptance (achievable trough a major process of redefining “what individual happiness and humanity means”.)

The relevance of this topic and of the changes, shifts and guidelines derived from its being a focal point of discussion for leading-edge economical entities is obvious. All the organizations downstream the resulting policies can tune their strategies to this vision, should its global implementation become certain.


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