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    Could Japan become a role model for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

    Leveraging augmented technologies such as self-driving cars, artificial intelligence and data-intensive precision medicine to rectify social challenges is a singular objective amongst countries. Two common factors can be achieved including a strong sense of mission across government, industry and civil society; and the appropriate combination of intellectual and industrial assets for implementations. Japan is one to exhibit both factors in surplus.

    Japan often analyse an issue over a long period and have gathered all information before coming to a critical conclusion. However, at present, the social, economic and technological challenges and opportunities require urgent attention. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can provide answers for societies and/or forge new predicaments but it cannot wait.

    The three spheres in which Japan can take the lead include (1) autonomous and urban mobility (2) precision medicine (3) data policy.

    The first sphere is a dimension where Japan is well-founded with its prevailing automobile sector and top-notch public transportation. With the onset of self-driving vehicles and new methods to share rides, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is blurring the lines between private car framework and public transport, and the Japanese industry wants to keep up with the changes.

    In medicine, the revolution 4.0 also demonstrated a chance to transform the delivery of healthcare services. Besides the integration of big data and artificial intelligence for the purpose of enhanced treatments at lower costs is another aspect that is greatly beneficial to countries with greying population. Japan’s national health system has a wealth of data, however, it is not sufficiently utilised to create better medication or protocols to cure cancers. The right incentives is needed to tap onto these resources. Patients will have to feel that they can govern their data and have the opportunity to benefit from its use. This is where new methods of data management can be applied.

    Artificial intelligence and machine learning serve as new approaches of resolving present challenges. However, for this to happen, these technologies need access to data. If emerging technology such as smart, secure blockchain contracts can be used to determine the use of data – openly and freely by university researchers conducting cancer research but for a fee by for-profit drug companies. Japan can be the leading nation to establish a blockchain-based token exchange to expedite transactions and administer rewards of data usage. Good and accessible data can attract researchers and startups from around the world; thereby leading to economic benefits along with breakthroughs in medicine and other fields.

    International businesses, startups, civil society and academia will have to work together in innovative ways to resolve the unparalleled challenges. Japan is demonstrating an increasing interest for new advances and is set to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    Source: World Economic Forum

    Participate in the upcoming QS in conversation – “University-Public Sector Partnerships: Smart Cities” which will be held from 3-5 October 2018 in Singapore.

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