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Social Innovation

These technologies can help the fragmented world: Davos 2023

Discussions at the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, are firmly focused on reversing the increasingly fragmented world by seeking connected solutions for multiple ongoing crises.

The entwined ’polycrisis’ of growing environmental, geopolitical and socioeconomic risks highlights the complexity of the task at hand, as leaders work toward solving ever more challenging global issues.

We are learning that, as inextricably linked crises, it’s not helpful to conceptualize or deal with them in isolation. To find solutions, we first need to understand their interconnectedness and how as a global community we can better connect with one another.

Technology will be instrumental in achieving this goal, whether by using new artificial intelligence (AI) that takes problem-solving further than ever before, or by providing a virtual space where international groups can meet and discuss the problems of today in safety.

Here are four technology-focused talking points at Davos 2023 that could be key drivers in the race toward a more stable and connected world.

1) Deep learning and real-world data

Deep learning is taking AI a step further toward becoming an indispensable modern problem-solving tool.

No longer reliant just on experience and intuition, companies harness deep learning AI to improve their businesses, and this data-led approach can do the same for social innovation.

Deep learning – an artificial neural network that mimics the way the human brain works by ‘learning’ from large amounts of real-world data – has almost limitless uses.

Farmers use it to forecast crop yields and power self-driving machinery. Tech firms have used it to create virtual assistants. And we have used it to help predict when maintenance will be required on rail networks.

We understand that deep learning is centered around the idea of interconnectedness, improving, one step at a time, by having access to multiple data sets. The more real-world data that’s fed into digital ecosystems like Lumada, the better.

And because Hitachi works across multiple industries, and collects real-world data, we are able to compile that data to produce solutions that work across many of those industries.

For example, Hitachi Rail is investing in digitalization, connecting its products, systems and solutions using the Lumada IoT platform. By doing this, it can open up maintenance optimizations, such as automated maintenance, which cuts overall costs and increases operational efficiency. Or it could be used to make trains more autonomous, or reduce physical rail infrastructure. There are so many potential uses.

Having an established global presence makes this possible. To meet demand for digital engineering and transformation, the Hitachi Group has been steadily growing its network – building new centers and acquiring digital engineering firms in strategic hubs around the world.

2) Lighthouses

It is encouraging to see the Global Lighthouse Network progress, offering an insight into what can be achieved when we share our knowledge, especially in data form.

This network of manufacturers has been working since 2019 to help speed up the widespread adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies by the global manufacturing community.

The ‘Lighthouses’ are some of the most technologically developed factories in the world, showing leadership in transforming value chains, business models and factory floors.

We are also proud of our own ‘lighthouse’, the Hitachi Omika Works, recognized by the Forum for its stable supply and operation of critical social infrastructure systems.

Reducing lead times for core products by 50% was made possible by our own Lumada solutions. The factory was recognized for its optimization and sophistication using digital technologies, such as the establishment of a high-efficiency production model.

By partnering with other like-minded companies, we can share the learning journey so that everyone can benefit from the lessons.

3) The metaverse

Whenever it is too dangerous, expensive, time-consuming, or impractical to meet in person, technology offers a range of solutions, from video conferencing to an immersive virtual 3D environment to interact in.

For this year’s Annual Meeting, a new Global Collaboration Village has been launched in the metaverse. The first ever metaverse multilateral meetings are currently being hosted by the Forum, bringing together leaders and experts from multiple industries to drive action on critical global issues.

We’ve been working with the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum on establishing technology governance practices that can make the most of digital technology, while also ensuring that its use is safe and secure.

4) Digital twins

Digital twins are a valuable resource for social innovation, as they allow us to run various scenarios and work out what the effects will be, without the risk of damage to the business, physical asset or surrounding environment.

Essentially, digital twins are replicas of real-world things, such as a factory, in a digital space. The more data harnessed to create the digital twin, the more accurate the simulations that can be run.

The rise of increasingly complex platforms that utilize real-world data can play an important role in the creation of more useful digital twins. These platforms can collect, refine and store data generated from the physical sites, before organizing and integrating the data with other applications.

Because digital twins help in providing research and development for estimating performance outcomes, we expect to see many more real-world applications as we pivot away from the fragmented environment we face today.

Connecting humans and technologies

The Forum calls upon world leaders to focus on both the immediate problems of today, and the upcoming problems of tomorrow. But we can all have a part to play in building foundations for a more sustainable and resilient world.

At Hitachi, we believe that technologies will continue to provide better ways and means of helping us to understand and define problems by using virtual spaces, modelling, digital twins, deep learning and a host of emerging solutions to drive social innovation.

Human ingenuity can be paired with connecting technologies to create complex roadmaps towards a better society.

Hitachi is committed to being a part of this journey, as we remain true to our original 1910 mission statement, when our founders pledged to “contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products”.