In this talk, David Humphrey examines the Japanese government’s Society 5.0 initiative and its intersection with artificial intelligence and biometric surveillance, as well as the anxieties surrounding aging populations in industrialized nations. Announced in 2019, Society 5.0 places the issue of an aging society and shrinking population center stage. A successor to early ICT based initiatives such as the 2000s era Japan, Society 5.0 seeks, according to official government literature, to realize a “human-centric society” which achieves both “economic growth and solutions to social problems” via “systems that fuse cyberspace and physical space to a high degree.” In David's discussion of Society 5.0, he situates the program’s focus on Japan’s aging population within the context of contemporary smart city discourse, as well as older, mid-twentieth century ones arising from cybernetics and systems theory. Initiatives like Society 5.0 suggest a new direction of biopolitics, he argues, in which the aim is no longer to manage and steer population growth but to react and adapt to population decline—particularly through the leveraging of so-called smart technologies vaguely defined.
David Humphrey is an assistant professor of Japanese and Global Studies at Michigan State University. His research on Japanese media has appeared in journals including Media Culture & Society, the International Journal of Communication and The Journal of Japanese Studies. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Time of Laughter: Comedy and the Media Cultures of Japan (University of Michigan Press, 2023) and is currently working on a manuscript on digital culture in Japan.
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