While speaking with the University of Tokyo Students, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said that Japan is laying the foundations to become a global AI hub. The Minister pointed to a holistic approach where the government would support startups and large businesses, and even push social support systems such as universal basic income.
In his vision of things, if successful, “people will have more time” as robots, drones, and other AI-powered machines help to reduce the need for human labor.” But what is the formula to make this all possible? As some might know, Japan is struggling with a population demographic crisis and years of economic recessions.
But, according to Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, one of the steps forward is to create a company in Japan that “surpasses NVIDIA,” the world’s leading chipmaker. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently pushed forward greater government-backed support for the demotic semiconductor sector.
This realignment is meant to help the Japanese economy regain some of its edge when it comes to chipmaking it had lost in recent decades. The investment by Tokyo to make this a reality will see the country set aside billions in subsidies to triple the domestic production of chips by 2030.
In a separate fund, the Japanese government is also attempting to build up the nation’s chip materials supply chain, with some pivoting away from Chinese-controlled mineral rights. Currently, Japan is also looking ahead toward regularity frameworks to contend with the dynamic nature of generative AI.
The main goal of these regulations is to ensure that domestic AI ventures aren’t tied down unnecessarily by government tape. During the symposium in Tokyo, Kishida said of their regulatory work, “It’s not an all-or-nothing choice,” according to Bloomberg.
This is likely one of the reasons why OpenAI CEO Sam Altman visited Japan last month in hopes of building out the company’s network infrastructure in one of Asia’s main economies. One of the leaders Altman spoke with was SoftBank Group Corp’s founder Masayoshi Son.
During that visit, he said of AI’s impact on Japan, “We need to discuss what it means to be human, when we no longer are the most intelligent animated being on the planet…This is the time for Japan to pour all its efforts into AI.”