AI Business is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Softbank founder fires AI warning shot at Japan

Article Image

by Ken Wieland

22 July 2019

LONDON -- Masayoshi Son, the
multi-billionaire founder of SoftBank Group, a Japanese multinational conglomerate,
warned that Japan is in danger of becoming an AI laggard.  At Softbank’s annual conference, as reported
by the Financial
, Son urged Japanese
businesses and government officials to “wake up”.

“Until just recently, Japan was at the cutting edge of
global technology,” he said. “But within the space of a few years, Japan has
now completely become a developing country in the most important area of AI
where technology revolution is happening.”

Son is a technophile and something of a visionary. He talks about 300-year business plans and believes passionately in the ‘singularity’ when computer intelligence outsmarts humans. In one interview, Son reckoned the singularity will happen around 2055.

Related: Japan's Government Does Not Fear AI

He also has the willingness
and ability to place enormous punts on young tech firms, many of which are
determinedly futuristic and have little in the way of product. In early-2017,
helped by investment from Saudi Arabia, Son assembled the Vision Fund worth about $100bn .

Son ruefully noted by the end of
March this year, however, that while the Vision Fund had invested around $60
billion of its capital not one deal was conducted in the Japanese market. “Maybe
it’s not too late but things are looking extremely grim,” he said.

SoftBank has invested in more than 70 start-ups in the US,
south-east Asia, Europe and Latin America through the Vision Fund. US
ride-hailing group Uber, Indian hotel chain Oyo and Brazilian lending platform
Creditas are among those attracting Vision Fund dollars.

Trending Stories
All Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars

More Webinars

Latest Videos

More videos


More EBooks

Research Reports

More Research Reports
AI Knowledge Hub

AI for Everything Series

David Hardoon explaining recent developments in Data Science and AI

Author of Getting Started with Business Analytics: Insightful Decision-Making and the forthcoming book, Creating a Data Culture: Failing to Succeed

AI Knowledge Hub

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up