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HOME NRI JOURNAL Commitment to Adapting to Paradigm Shifts


Innovation magazine that generates hints for the future


Commitment to Adapting to Paradigm Shifts

Shoichi Ohno, Senior Managing Director, Deputy Division Manager of the Distribution & Communication Solution Division




Apr. 09, 2018

With the start of 2018, the PyeongChang Olympics are now just a few weeks away. At every Olympics, we see not only enhancement in athletic performances but also advancements in IT and broadcast technologies such as FAX, satellite communication, and high-definition television. I already look forward to seeing what cutting-edge technologies are in store in PyeongChang and at the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

As a Result of Technological Advancements, AI and Robots Are Replacing the Labor Force

2017 was called the “Year of AI”, and it seemed there was not even one day when we didn’t see or hear such buzzwords as AI, IoT (Internet of Things), and robots. Developments in image and sensor technology and advancements in networks have made IoT a reality, and cloud computing has created an environment for using big data.

These technological advancements have further raised public interest in AI. Such advancements have also transformed the industrial world, with the auto industry experiencing a wave of technological advances—such as progress in autonomous driving with AI and a shift to EV (electric vehicles)—and being forced to adapt to a paradigm shift. Recently there were news reports about “assets management by AI” and “the rise of AI lawyers,” and AI and robots are starting to encroach on humans’ jobs.

NRI also released a report on December 2, 2015 that 49% of Japan’s labor force may be replaced by AI and robots.

With technological advancements, managers and other people are increasingly facing a paradigm shift and feeling uneasy.

Let’s discuss how we can make use of AI, robots and other technological advancements, using sports as an example.

Enhancing Fairness in Sports Refereeing

Sports spectators are increasingly seeing the use of video replays and tablet-toting managers and coaches. Fields and courts are surrounded by video cameras and sensors and are covered by networks, and information is sent live. Video replays have been introduced in baseball, soccer, volley ball, tennis, and other sports, which means that athletes may be psychologically affected by the wait time or the results of such replays. This, in turn, could even lead to a momentum shift during matches. Even spectators may feel stressed as well.

Top-level tennis players are hitting serves faster than ever in recent years amid athlete development and advances in equipment, with the speed topping 200km per hour (125 mph). Tennis officials must instantly determine whether such ultrafast-moving balls touched the 5cm lines. In baseball, pitchers are throwing balls at 160km per hour (100 mph) or faster, and umpires have just 0.4 seconds to determine whether the ball went into the strike zone which is different for each batter. These are just beyond human abilities.

Today, international tennis tournaments use a computer system called Hawk-Eye from U.K. company Hawk-Eye Innovations, which uses videos from cameras set up around the court to recreate the most reasonable trajectory of a ball and displays the path with computer graphics instantly for making a call. This is a result of advancements in the fields of video, networks, and IT that employs technology initially used for missile tracking. In baseball, the U.S. Independent League apparently tested robot umpires in 2015. These are good examples of using IT, robots, and other technological advancements in making calls that are part of human-developed rules but require more than human abilities.

Meanwhile, because of such obstacles as the time it takes before a call is made and high costs, it will likely be a while before robots completely replace human umpires and referees. For the time being, however, AI and robots should be used as supplemental tools for human judgments to clarify challenges and enhance the fairness of the game.

The Resolve to Embrace Drastic Advancements in IT and Face Changes in the Business Environment

No industries are expected to be immune from some degree of impact of advancements in IT, particularly in AI, over the next several years. Managers and even individuals will be forced to adapt to the paradigm shift. It’s essential to assess human abilities and embrace IT where needed. By doing so, we’ll be able to enjoy new business opportunities with the assumption of drastic productivity improvement and technological applications.

“Management intelligence”, the theme for this publication, refers to a skill or technology to collect, accumulate, and analyze information one’s company receives and use it for managerial decision-making. It is our hope that you’ll find this helpful, even slightly, in dealing with today’s fast-changing business environment. We must be committed to assessing human abilities and actively using IT not only in areas that will lead to enhanced efficiency, but also wherever needed.


NRI Research Paper Knowledge Creation and Integration February, 2018

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