GPAI Future of Work: Survey Report 2021 in Japan

  • Date:
  • Time:
    10:00-12:00 (JST)
  • Venue:
    Online (Zoom webinar)
  • Host:

    Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo

  • Co-host:

    Work Environment & Science / Technology Research Center, Doshisha University
    Innovation Design Office, RIKEN
    Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
    Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

  • Cooperate:

    Japan Deep Learning Association

  • Language:

    Japanese/English simultaneous interpretation will be provided

  • Entry fee:

    Not required

  • Registration:

    Advance online registration is required.
    Please click the Register button to pre-register for the Zoom webinar.
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The Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), established in June 2020, is an international initiative for the responsible development and use of AI based on the concept of “human-centered.” The GPAI has several working groups, one of which discusses the “Future of Work.” As part of this group’s project, an international interview survey is being conducted around the world to find out how our work will change as AI is introduced into the workplace. One of the unique methods of this survey is that the students who will be responsible for the future are interviewing the companies and organizations.
In 2021, Japan participated in the survey, and the report will be published and disseminated both domestically and internationally. In this event, we will introduce an overview of the survey conducted in Japan this year, and discuss methodological points with the students who were actually involved in the interviews. We would like to discuss the future development of this survey with companies, organizations, and students who are interested in it.


GPAI website:
GPAI Future of Work Working Group:
GPAI Future of Work AI Observatory at the Workplace:
GPAI Future of Work Group Video:
GPAI Interview with Yuko Harayama):
Students from all over the world are helping to promote the future of AI:

  • 10:00
    Opening Remarks

    Hideaki Shiroyama (IFI, The University of Tokyo)

  • 10:05
    Introduction of the GPAI Future of Work

    Yuko Harayama (RIKEN, Former co-chair of GPAI Future of Work Working Group)

  • 10:20
    Introduction of the Future of Work Survey

    Arisa Ema (IFI, The University of Tokyo)

  • 10:40
    Reports from Students

    Mizuki Inoue (Doshisha University)
    Rieko Ikeda (Doshisha University)
    Ryu Kudo (The University of Tokyo)

  • 11:00
    Panel Discussion and Q&A

    -Yuko Harayama (RIKEN)
    -Masayo Fujimoto (Doshisha University)
    -Takashi Matsumoto (The University of Tokyo)
    -Mizuki Inoue (Doshisha University)
    -Rieko Ikeda (Doshisha University)
    -Ryu Kudo (The University of Tokyo)

    -Arisa Ema (The University of Tokyo)

  • 11:50
    Closing Remarks

    Yoichi Iida (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)


Secretariat, Institute for Future Initiatives, UTokyo
Technology Governance Policy Research Unit
E-mail: ifi_tg★★→@)

The Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), established in June 2020, is an international initiative dedicated to the responsible development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) based on a “human-centric” perspective. Among them is a working group discussing the “Future of Work.”
As part of this working group’s initiative, we are conducting a worldwide international interview survey to determine how our working methods will change. One of the unique methods of this survey is that the students, who are the future workers, are the primary interviewers for the companies. At this event, we presented an overview of the survey conducted in Japan this year and then invited the students who were involved in the interviews to participate in the discussion.

 Prof. Hideaki Shiroyama, Director of the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo, began by introducing various discussions on the benefits and risks of AI that have been conducted in Japan by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and the Cabinet Office, and internationally by the OECD and G7. Among them, he introduced the GPAI, which will be introduced at this event, as a unique organization whose secretariat is the OECD but whose actual management is done from the bottom up by worldwide experts. He concluded by stating that the manner in which students conduct research is equally crucial for thinking about the “future,” and that universities must consider how they can participate.

The first topic was presented by Dr. Yuko Harayama of RIKEN, who introduced the GPAI. Dr. Harayama was a co-chair of the GPAI “The Future of Work” during 2020–2021.
Canada and France played a proactive role in organizing the GPAI. “Enabling the responsible adoption of AI,” held in 2018 when Canada was chair of the G7, and the 2019 discussions at the Summit on Humanity, held at the Digital Ministers meeting in France, were at the core of the GPAI’s foundation. The GPAI was then born with the release of a joint statement at the G7 in June 2020. The founding member countries nominated their own experts, and multi-stakeholder debates are being conducted among academia, industry, and civil society. The organizational structure of the GPAI is based on these multi-stakeholder working groups, with the OECD serving as the secretariat.
 The GPAI has four working groups, one of which, “Future of Work,” will be covered today. Diversity and cooperation are the values that this working group focuses on as shared values. Although the future of work and the impact of AI vary from country to country and region to region, our basic activity policy is to discuss the values that should be shared.
 Specifically, the purpose of this working group is to collect “use cases on AI” as well as work styles and to build a living lab to connect them to the future. She also stated that the working group is currently discussing how to improve the quality of work and protect the working environment in the workplace, in addition to the kind of design that is required to achieve this.

Next, Dr. Arisa Ema, also a GPAI “Future of Work” expert member, presented an overview of the case study conducted in Japan. Although the survey was student-led, a management team comprising faculty members was organized to provide support for the Japan survey. Consequently, 11 companies and organizations were interviewed in 2021. While most of the AI systems covered by the survey already conducted overseas, mainly in Europe and the U.S., were in the proof of concept (PoC) stage, one of the distinguishing features of the Japanese survey was that many of them were in the service provision stage. While the survey items were consistent with international surveys, the Japanese students also included questions related to the issues behind the use of AI, as well as other survey items that were unique to Japan.
 According to the survey results, the purpose of AI adoption in Japan is not only to cope with labor shortages but also to increase diversity and productivity. The challenges of AI adoption include those already discussed in AI ethics, such as ensuring transparency, fairness, and protecting personal information, as well as those related to the relationship between humans and AI. Concerns were also raised about the division of roles and how tasks should be allocated among the machines, as well as the possibility of becoming overly dependent on AI. The entire study is now available as a report on the University of Tokyo website.

Global Partnership on AI Future of Work Survey Report 2021A Report and Recommendations from the Japan Survey

Subsequently, three of the nine students who participated in the survey provided feedback on their impressions of their participation and future challenges. Mr. Ryu Kudo, a master’s student at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, commented that by participating in the interviews conducted by other students as well as the companies he interviewed as a leader, he discovered that the use and impact of AI vary greatly across industries. Thus, he concluded that it was difficult to generalize about the impact of AI on work because the challenges of the industry itself, rather than the technology of AI, were in the background. He also commented that by conducting the interviews jointly with the students who had studied social research at Doshisha University, he had learned a lot about how to conduct interviews.
 Ms. Mizuki Inoue, a fourth-year student at Doshisha University’s Faculty of Sociology, spoke next, noting that she was able to interview a variety of companies because the GPAI organization was behind the project. She also commented that it was beneficial for the students to be able to select their own interviewees for this survey. On the other hand, she also pointed out that due to time constraints, it was not always possible to create a satisfactory survey form or to conduct a satisfactory preliminary survey. It was also suggested that more opportunities to practice interviews in advance would have helped the students conduct a more coordinated survey.
 Finally, Ms. Rieko Ikeda, a doctoral student from the Graduate School of Sociology at Doshisha University who participated in the management team as a research assistant, commented that the experience of managing an international survey was valuable for graduate students who will conduct their own surveys in the future. She did, however, express concern that she might not have been able to provide sufficient support for the management of students across multiple universities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all meetings and interviews were conducted online, which can be covered by making full use of the online bulletin board and frequent touchpoints with the faculty. However, she pointed out that until the overall management method was established, both students and faculty would be anxious and burdened.

 In addition to the speakers, Prof. Masayo Fujimoto from Doshisha University’s Department of Sociology and Mr. Takashi Matsumoto, a visiting researcher from the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Future Initiatives, who participated in the survey’s management team, joined the panel to review the survey and discuss prospects.
 Moderated by Dr. Ema, the first theme discussed about student-led surveys. Dr. Harayama first introduced the background of why this method was chosen. When collecting international case studies, one of GPAI’s professional members collaborated with his own students to conduct the survey. It was thought that making the students conduct the interviews rather than the consultants or faculty members would create new perspectives, and it was also envisioned that developing an international community of students who would shape the future would be important.
 From her perspective as a supervisor, Prof. Fujimoto emphasized the significance of students’ involvement in such international social surveys, enabling them to learn how to manage surveys. In addition, working with students from other universities and disciplines made them aware of their own expertise. However, although the majority of Doshisha University students were third-year undergraduates, they gained numerous insights into AI and future work styles through the GPAI survey. She hoped the GPAI survey would serve as a stimulus to companies introducing AI in their job-hunting activities by talking with the students who conducted the survey.
 Mr. Matsumoto, who supported the management of the GPAI survey project, pointed out that the students involved in this survey project had reexamined the challenges and social problems faced by each industry and asked questions from the perspective of AI utilization. He commented that the business environments in each industry had changed significantly over the past several years and that the students’ “re-research” had reduced the comprehension between them and the company representatives they were interviewing. It was pointed out that this kind of collaborative research between students and businesspeople would lead to new discoveries as expected by the leader of the international survey, Mr. Ferguson of GPAI.

 The panel then moved on to the characteristics of surveys unique to Japan. Feedback from students has pointed out the difficulty of generalizing and talking about AI technology and the importance of interviewing people with knowledge about the way they work and the challenges that industry and society face.
 Prof. Fujimoto began her presentation with an overview of the Japanese industry and the working population. In Japan, an aging workforce in industries such as agriculture, civil engineering, and construction is causing a shortage of human resources, and the use of AI in such fields is expected to ensure safety and reduce the workload. As a result, there is a great need for IT personnel, however, the current situation indicates that they are unable to meet the demand. In addition, in Japan’s industrial and occupational structure, many manufacturing companies have moved their factories overseas and become multinationals, resulting in a society where the number of manufacturing jobs is falling and the number of white-collar workers is extremely high. From this perspective, it was suggested that not only the introduction of AI into industries with labor shortages but also the introduction of AI for atypical tasks is required as society increasingly demands more advanced services from white-collar workers, who tend to work longer hours.
 Students also commented that when choosing the interviewees, they wanted to learn about the realities of “AI that takes away jobs” and “AI that responds to labor shortages.” However, through the interviews, they also learned that AI can be used to solve problems in industries, to eliminate routine work, to allow machines to do the work that can be done by non-humans, and to allow humans to do creative work in the surplus. Another student commented that as a student who is currently job hunting, he has become more conscious of how he can get involved in AI and DX as a humanities student and that his knowledge of the industry has increased and he is now interested in finding a job in it.
 Mr. Matsumoto also pointed out that some companies and organizations may be reluctant to cooperate with the survey project because of negative propaganda such as “AI will take away our jobs” that may spread in the public mind and diverge from the purpose of AI utilization practiced by companies when raising issues from a survey. He also commented that it was wonderful to read about the various discoveries made by the students in their feedback. He said it would be important for the GPAI survey to disseminate new values as well as possibilities related to work styles and for AI to increase the number of companies and organizations cooperating in the GPAI survey.

 In conclusion, Prof. Fujimoto pointed out that the GPAI survey will be critical in determining the unique impact of AI, as the introduction of new technology has been experienced many times in the past to change the working environment. She also commented that the introduction of AI will not solve all problems and that it is necessary to continue to monitor the relationship between people and machines. In terms of methodology, she pointed out that although the survey was conducted online only once due to the COVID-1919 pandemic, it is important to establish a system to build a relationship of trust with the survey targets.
Dr. Harayama also expressed her enthusiasm for conducting a better survey next year, citing the findings of this year’s “think while you run” survey as well as the issues that came to light during the survey. To this end, she expressed her hope that all companies, organizations, and students who are willing to cooperate in the future will participate in the survey.

 Mr. Yoichi Iida, Director for Information and Communications Policy Research, International Strategy Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), delivered the closing remarks, stating that MIC and METI are participating in the GPAI on behalf of the Japanese government, that Japan will assume the GPAI chairmanship in late 2022, and that the GPAI Summit will be held in Tokyo in November or December. He added that he would like to provide an opportunity for many people to participate in GPAI activities as an open event rather than as a closed session for experts participating in the GPAI. Currently, the OECD and UNESCO have established principles on AI, however, how to implement them remains a challenge, and the GPAI’s activities are aimed at advancing them on a project basis. Considering this, he concluded the “Future of Work” Japan survey is truly a very practical initiative that contributes to GPAI’s activities and that it is important to disseminate this information in Japan and abroad.