4. Future Vision for Collaborative Creation to Achieve a Super Smart Society
Along with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations, the Japanese government has also proposed “Society 5.0” as a new concept for society. Presented in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan published by the Cabinet Office, the idea is to use information and communications technology not only to enhance economic efficiency, but also to create a more vibrant society for people to live in. However, the advance of digital technology in recent years has led to greater diversity in people's attitudes and how they relate to society, such that it is no longer easy to get a clear picture of what form societal systems should take. Hitachi intends to contribute to Society 5.0 in its role as an innovation partner for the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) by presenting specific ideas about the social infrastructure systems of the future and leading the debate about what forms these systems should take.
Vision design* works by using the concerns of people as a starting point for identifying problems, coming up with examples of technologies and services for resolving these problems, and using this to seek out the desired ways in which people and technology can interact. While numerous smart technologies have been developed in recent years, there remain problems in people's daily lives that are not solved by these technologies, as well as other problems that have arisen because of them. By presenting problems from this personal perspective, the aim in vision design is to consider social infrastructure systems that go beyond merely being smart by also having humanity (see Figure 4.1).
One example is the “Ageing with me” vision notable for involving a communication robot that operates in the home, in which vision design was used to identify problems from the consumer's perspective and generate hypotheses for how to resolve them. This vision assumes a future society in which the use of data analysis is widespread and individuals are provided with numerical probabilities regarding their risk of disease. While this is not a future that Hitachi is hoping for, by presenting a possible future to highlight problems that people may be confronted with, it serves as a way of clarifying the issues to be considered when dealing with new social infrastructure systems. The process then considered the problem of the unassuageable concerns felt by the elderly who are aware of the probability of suffering from dementia and came up with the idea of a robot that is able to detect even minor signs of dementia. In terms of what interactions between people and technology would help to deal with the problem, the idea encompasses the following three features (see Figure 4.2).
The first is that it would encourage elderly people living alone to speak more. In this case, the robot would not merely wait for instructions from the user, such as to do the shopping, but instead would be equipped with an extensive range of expressions that would encourage users to converse with it. The second is the ability to notice even small changes in behavior. After spending long periods of time together, the dispassionate evaluation possible by a robot would allow it to notice small behavior changes, the sort that people would become accustomed to and thereby overlook. The third feature is that its role would gradually change. The robot would not be brought into the home solely as a specialist device aimed at preventing dementia. A robot that starts out providing assistance with the shopping or with taking medicines could gradually shift its role toward easing the progression of dementia. In this way, the technology could operate alongside the user and serve to help resolve problems in ways that only technology can.
By envisaging the problems that people will face in the future world and how they can be resolved, visions that feature technologies that would be difficult to implement at present, this process provides a way to determine how best to provide social infrastructure systems and to identify areas for research and development (see Figure 4.3).
- Vision design
4.1. Block diagram of vision design and material available on the website
4.2. How technology and interaction are used in the “Ageing with me” vision that deals with concern about dementia
4.3. Vision for how technology can operate alongside people in a society where unassuageable concerns are becoming more commonplace