Next society and beyond

By september 4, 2019 Algemeen

Society 5.0 will feature enhanced forms of robotics, AI, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, an enhanced Internet of Things, and further exploitation of Big Data. Both Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0 are premised on the creation of increasingly sophisticated cyber–physical systems, which are characterized by their reliance on embedded, decentralized, real-time computation occurring within a network of heterogeneous physical objects.

When human beings (or social robots or AIs) are functionally integrated into a cyber-physical system (CPS) at the social, cognitive, and physical levels, it becomes a cyber-physical-social system (CPSS) whose members may engage in cyber-physical-social behaviors within cyber-physical spaces. Through their interactions with one another, the members of a CPSS may give rise to cyber-physical social networks whose topologies follow the members’ social connections.

Cyber-physical systems were harnessed to enhance human quality of life on a large scale, they may result in the creation of a cyber-physical society, which already includes human, social, cultural spheres as well, above the physical- and cyber spaces.

With the rapid development of information technology, the cyber space is connecting physical space, social space and mental space to form a new world—Cyber Physical Society.

The new realm of Society 5.0 will encompass a cyber-physical world that functions almost symbiotically alongside the human world, a society that has truly become a Cyber-Physical System that is the mixture of the real world and the cyber world connected by ICT; such cyber-physicalization of its world helps distinguish Society 5.0 from the four preceding stages of human society. Indeed, Society 5.0 is premised on a deepening of technological integration that supports collaboration, co-creation and human-machine interaction.

More specifically, it expands Industry 4.0 pursuit of an integration between technology, virtual space and the human being, between the real world and the virtual world. In future societies, human beings and their natural and artificial environments will thus become melded at multiple temporal and spatial scales to create cognitive cooperative systems and human-technology partnerships.

Thanks to its profoundly technologized, cyber-physical nature, Society 5.0 will be able to incorporate into its societal structures and dynamics types of beings that had not previously been found within the world’s societies.

Beyond its human members, Society 5.0 can be expected to include many types of non-human intelligent social actors as participants or even members. For the foreseeable future, such artificial entities are not expected to merit or receive recognition as moral subjects (e.g., moral agents) or political persons (e.g., citizens) in the way that human beings are.

Nevertheless, such artificial beings would appear not simply to be passive tools or anonymous parts of the environment; it seems possible that they might be capable of acting as true (if limited) non-human participants in society, in the same way that house pets and working animals have long been an integral part of human society in many parts of the world.

Unlike the types of robots found in our contemporary Society 4.0, the robots of Society 5.0 will not simply serve as passive tools that require elaborate programming and wait to receive instructions from their human operators; rather, the robots, AI, and other automated systems and devices of Society 5.0 will demonstrate an increasing degree of autonomy—proactively gathering data from the environment, making decisions, and acting in order to provide beneficial services to human beings.

In essence, Society 5.0 is the ultimate realization of the vision of a future high-tech networked society in which technologically supported human participants engage with robots, AI, and virtual entities in rich and beneficial ways.

The large-scale societal change represented by the integration of artificially intelligent social actors into human society brings with it considerable new practical, ethical, and security challenges. After all, it is one thing for specially trained employees of an Industry 4.0 company to spend a limited amount of time interacting with social robots or AIs within a specially prepared workplace environment in order to carry out some narrowly defined work-related task; it is something different for millions of ordinary individuals—from children to the elderly—to incorporate such intelligent, social, artificial entities into their homes, their daily routines, and the most intimate aspects of their lives.

One particular locus of ambiguity in the Society 5.0 vision relates to the exact role that human beings will play within it: it seems possible that the diverse types of robots, advanced AI, sentient computer networks, responsive smart environments, and other non-human intelligent social actors who become incorporated into Society 5.0 will not only do work that had been previously performed by human beings but in some cases may possess physical, intellectual, emotional, and social capacities that exceed those of the human beings whom they are tasked with serving. Such a society will include at least two distinct sources of sensing, deciding, and acting: the natural  bioagency possessed by human beings and the artificial  cyberagency possessed by robots and AI (and, potentially, by neuroprosthetically augmented human persons).

Humans remain central actors in a Society 5.0 that is so radically transformed by digitalization and innovative technologies; rather than allowing technological advances to determine the shape and character of society, it will be necessary to continually focus on the word ‘society’ as the foundation for human life, which involves focusing on how to build a society that makes us happy and provides a sense of worth.

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