Faced with digital development profoundly affecting all sectors of society and the economy, Japan has developed a concept of a connected and super-intelligent society, the Society 5.0., where the potential of technological advances is put at the service of all citizens. In this way, they seek to go beyond technocentric concepts such as Industry 4.0, and put people’s needs at the center of ongoing technological transformations. The Society 5.0. aims to focus on what to balance the deployment of Big Data, the Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence with the resolution of society’s problems — aging or competitiveness —, and contribute to greater well-being.

The concept of Society 5.0, in whose explanation the Elcano Royal Institute is extended in a recommendable article, has been developed by the Japanese government in conjunction with Japanese employers Keidanren and academic circles, with the intention of having a more proactive approach to the type of society to be built, instead of limiting itself to “predicting what society will be like” after the profound transformations of the fourth industrial revolution. Thus, given people’s logical fear of technology, he proposes a concept that sees transformations not only as something inevitable, but also positive to address problems such as the aging of the population or the lack of availability of resources — challenges that Japan shares with societies like the Basque —.

In the vision of Society 5.0, the advanced fusion between physical space and cyberspace (through the Internet of Things) would be done in such a way that products and services reach people where and when they need them, in the right quantities, integrating the energy, mobility, manufacturing or organizational management systems. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics would not only replace human work, but would “empower” human work, giving creativity a greater role. People would have a higher quality of life and comfort level, getting rid of difficulties, and being able to pursue different lifestyles with various “liberations”:

  • of focusing on efficiency, with a society in which value is created;

  • of the suppression of individuality;

  • of disparity;

  • anxiety;

  • and resource and environmental limits.

For this, people need to be extensively educated in Artificial Intelligence. The need to improve security systems to protect citizens’ data from cyberattacks, which will have a greater potential to cause damage, is also contemplated from the outset.

Although, as the Elcano Society points out, the concept of Society 5.0 may still be too vague to function as a Strategy, it has the virtue of putting the citizen at the center of reflection on the ongoing technological revolution , and to take a proactive approach. The Government of Japan has not only developed the concept for itself, it has a vocation to share it to contribute to the fulfillment of a good part of the Objectives of Sustainable Development of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.