Needless to say, there isn’t much good news floating around these days. So it comes as a great relief that the Cabinet Office of Japan announced their initiatives for a future society in Japan under the Moonshot Research & Development Program. The program has the prime directive of creating a society which frees people from physical, mental, temporal, and spacial constraints by 2050.
▼ The program sees these freedoms as projections of current technological trends.
This can first be achieved by establishing the technology needed to allow people to begin piloting robotic avatars by 2030. By combining AI, biotech, and an ultra-high-speed network, a single person could control up to 10 avatars at once to perform a single task from the comfort of their own home and regardless of their own physical limitations.
▼ If all this talk of “avatars” controlled by humans from remote locations sounds familiar, that’s because it’s just like the plot to that sci-fi box-office smash that we all know and love: "Tobor the Great."
For example, let’s say you wake up one morning and want to see what it’s like to work on a fishing boat in the high seas. Well, you can just jack into a team of avatars stationed on such a boat and try to get a nice haul of skipjack tuna. And once you realize it’s every bit as soul-crushing as Hemingway described, you can move on to something else.
This fishing boat can also be run both by people and autonomously from time zones all over the world 24 hours a day without stopping or exploiting people. You wouldn’t even need to put pants on, let alone travel to the worksite, sparing wear and tear on your wardrobe and the environment in the process.
▼ Once implemented, the number of usable avatars and their functions per person would steadily grow.
The exponentially increasing labor force of these robots would then lay the groundwork for what they call “Society 5.0” by 2050, in which people will have access to thousands of avatars which they can use to work together and create even more technological wonders to improve their lives.
It’s certainly ambitious, but they don’t call it “moonshot” for nothing, and Japan feels that its position as a nation with an especially rapidly aging and decreasing population, makes it the perfect environment for such a societal disruption to occur in first.
The prospect of making life one big Animal Crossing game was intriguing for many netizens, while others lacked faith that the government could pull off such a revolution.
“Cool, we’ll be like Ghost in the Shell.”
“It’s like a real ‘brain in a vat’ situation.”
“It will be life in VR.”
“That’s taking telework to the extreme.”
“I wonder if we’ll stop using fax machines by then too.”
“Yeah, they promised me flying cars by now too, so I won’t be shocked when this doesn’t happen.”
“We can’t even get driverless cars going yet. That technology’s been around for years!”
“‘Free from space, time, body, and mind?’ Sounds like we’ll all be dead by 2050.”
“So our government wants us to live in the Matrix?”
It’s true you’ll still encounter a fax machine from time to time in Japan, and in terms of robots, it seems we haven’t been able to do much better than Pepper in the past six years.
On the other hand, there have already been some advancements in line with the Cabinet Office’s proposals such as Dawn ver.β, a cafe staffed by robotic avatar waiters controlled by paralyzed people from their homes.
So maybe Society 5.0 isn’t as far-fetched as it appears. Much like the original moonshot, it’s just a matter of being bold and optimistic enough to make it a reality.
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