The G7 Digital and Tech Ministers Meeting recently took place in Hiroshima, setting the stage for discussions on international collaboration and the future of technology. As the Digital Minister of Japan, Minister Taro Kono spearheaded the event and shared some noteworthy takeaways.
From establishing an international framework for data transfer to driving the adoption of advanced technologies like AI, the meeting unveiled a vision for the future of digital transformation in Japan and beyond. In this article, we delve into the key highlights and insights from the meeting.
International Framework for Data Transfer:
One of the significant outcomes of the G7 Digital and Tech Ministers Meeting was the agreement to establish an international framework for data transfer. This framework aims to enhance the security and efficient flow of data between countries.
Minister Taro Kono expressed optimism in obtaining endorsement from leaders at the Hiroshima summit, paving the way for the framework’s implementation by the following year. This initiative holds immense potential to facilitate global data exchange and drive innovation in various sectors.
Eliminating Outdated Analog Technologies:
Minister Taro Kono, who has been serving as the Digital Minister since 2021, shed light on the ongoing efforts to eliminate outdated analog technologies in Japan. Through an extensive review of laws and regulations dating back to 1868, it was discovered that over 10,000 provisions required the use of paper, floppy disks, fax machines, and other analog tools.
Minister Taro Kono introduced a bill aimed at removing these antiquated requirements, currently under debate in the parliament. If passed, this legislation will liberate the nation from unnecessary reliance on outdated technologies, fostering a more digitally advanced society.
Promoting the My Number Card:
The My Number card, Japan’s government ID for residents, has gained significant traction in recent years. With the issuance of nearly 97 million ID cards to date, Minister Taro Kono’s team has been actively encouraging citizens to adopt this digital identification system.
To enhance convenience, they have enabled the card’s functionality on Android cell phones, eliminating the need for a physical card. Moreover, the government plans to expand the use of cell phones for various administrative tasks, including tax returns and payments. These initiatives aim to boost public trust in digital systems and streamline government services.
Addressing Glitches and Ensuring Data Security:
While promoting digitalization, Japan faced an incident involving the My Number card system. Users reported receiving copies of someone else’s residence certificates, highlighting the need to prioritize data security. Minister Taro Kono assured that the government is rectifying the situation and working closely with the company responsible, Fujitsu, to address the issue.
With nearly 200 municipalities utilizing Fujitsu’s system, a thorough assessment is being conducted to restore public confidence. By diligently resolving these challenges, Japan is committed to ensuring the safety of personal data and upholding the integrity of digital systems.
Japan’s Eager Adoption of AI:
Japan’s administration remains enthusiastic about adopting AI technology, despite reservations in some Western countries. Minister Taro Kono highlighted the unique circumstances Japan faces, such as a rapidly declining population.
To maintain a human-centric society and mitigate labor force challenges, embracing AI and advanced technologies becomes crucial. Japan aims to leverage AI to enhance productivity and efficiency across various government ministries. By allowing technology to handle tasks that can be automated, human resources can focus on more meaningful interactions and higher-value work.
The Future of AI in Japan:
Minister Taro Kono envisions AI as a transformative force that will revolutionize society. Japan’s approach involves identifying areas where technology can outperform humans and prioritizing their adoption. By integrating AI into government ministries, efficiency and productivity can be significantly improved. Minister Taro Kono is encouraging all ministries to explore AI utilization, fostering a culture of innovation and forward-thinking within the public sector.
However, he also emphasized the need for caution and vigilance when it comes to the use of AI technologies. Minister Taro Kono acknowledged the potential of AI and its positive impact on society, but emphasized the importance of responsible implementation. This includes addressing issues such as deep fakes and ensuring that AI systems are trained in diverse and unbiased data sets.
The Challenge of Language Diversity:
During the discussion on AI, Minister Taro Kono raised a significant concern regarding the limited availability of non-English language data sets. The majority of data sets used to train AI models, including chat GPT, are predominantly in English. This poses a challenge for countries like Japan, where the Japanese language is prevalent.
Minister Taro Kono stressed the need to develop strategies to create robust data sets in languages like Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Malay, and Indonesian. By addressing this language gap, Japan aims to ensure that AI technologies are inclusive and applicable to diverse linguistic communities.
Minister Taro Kono’s View on Chat GPT and Future Aspirations:
When asked about his experience with chat GPT, Minister Taro Kono acknowledged the immense potential of the technology but emphasized the need for caution. He recounted an instance where the chat GPT provided inaccurate information about a person’s identity. This highlights the importance of carefully managing and validating the outputs of AI systems. Minister Taro Kono expressed optimism that the technology will continue to improve over time.
Regarding his personal ambitions, Minister Taro Kono humorously mentioned that he is indeed aspiring to become Prime Minister. While this statement was lighthearted, it reflects his dedication and commitment to driving positive change as a leader in Japan.
Energizing the Private Sector:
Minister Taro Kono believes that energizing the private sector is crucial for Japan’s progress. Despite being a capitalist market economy, Japan has witnessed a substantial accumulation of capital in the private sector. Minister Taro Kono emphasized the importance of utilizing these resources wisely by encouraging investments in innovative technologies and fostering entrepreneurship. By unleashing the potential of the private sector, Japan can stimulate economic growth, drive technological advancements, and create new opportunities for its citizens.
The G7 Digital and Tech Ministers Meeting in Hiroshima provided valuable insights into Japan’s digital transformation journey. Minister Taro Kono showcased the country’s commitment to embracing technology, streamlining administrative processes, and prioritizing data security.
The establishment of an international framework for data transfer, the elimination of outdated analog technologies, and the promotion of AI integration are all steps towards a more digitally advanced and inclusive society. As Minister Taro Kono and his team continue to drive innovation and tackle challenges, Japan is poised to become a global leader in harnessing the power of technology for the betterment of its citizens and beyond.
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