Japan to Boost Workplace Productivity with AI Amid Shrinking Workforce

By John Lopez

Mar 01, 2024 12:30 PM EST

Japan is now doubling down on its efforts to revitalize workplace productivity by adopting artificial intelligence (AI) technology. With a shrinking workforce due to an aging population, the country strategically leverages AI to address labor shortages and drive economic growth. 

(Photo : Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
A man (R) speaks with a booth representative (2nd R) next to a digital display (L) promoting ChatGPT, a hugely popular language app that has sparked a rush in artificial intelligence technology, during the three-day 7th AI Expo, part of NexTech Week Tokyo 2023, Japan's largest trade show for artificial intelligence technology companies, at Tokyo Big Sight on May 10, 2023. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP)

Japan's AI Push

In recent years, Japan has emerged as a global leader in AI innovation, positioning itself as a major player in the sector. The government is actively collaborating with international companies to expand the AI ecosystem and create new opportunities in digital technology.

One of the key focus areas for Japan's AI initiatives is the workplace, where AI technologies are being deployed to enhance productivity. With an aging population leading to critical staff shortages, industries like healthcare are particularly targeted for AI integration to meet the increasing demand for medical care.

In Japan, perceptions of AI are also shifting rapidly, with generative AI technologies becoming increasingly popular. PwC's survey revealed a significant increase in the use of generative AI applications in just six months, indicating a growing acceptance and understanding of AI's potential benefits.

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Japan's AI Startups

Global players, including Nvidia, are also eyeing the opportunities presented by Japan's AI market. Nvidia has announced plans to establish a research lab and invest in local startups to build an AI tech-related ecosystem in the country. Startups like Sakana AI are actively engaged in developing generative AI technologies in collaboration with telecommunications companies.

To support the growth of AI startups, the Japanese government has launched initiatives such as the Generative AI Accelerator Challenge. This program provides free access to AI computing resources, addressing the scarcity of high-end chips needed for AI development. Japan's trade watchdog METI, has allocated a substantial budget to foster the development of generative AI models and ensure startups have access to the necessary resources.

Despite these efforts, challenges remain, including the need for long-term financial sustainability and regulatory frameworks to support AI development. Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proposed legislation to address AI development and usage issues, highlighting the importance of comprehensive regulatory frameworks.

In a broader context, AI technology is expected to significantly impact global GDP, with McKinsey & Co. projecting substantial economic gains from generative AI technologies. Other Asian countries, such as South Korea and Singapore, are investing heavily in AI startups, underscoring the importance of international collaboration in AI development.

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