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

In a society where artificial intelligence (AI) is growing ever more pervasive, what will it take to build a better future for workers? How is AI affecting their work and what is happening in the field? This document reports an experiment and survey conducted on these issues by members of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI).

The GPAI is an international framework that aims to realize the development and use of “responsible AI” based on a human-centered approach and principles such as transparency and respect for human rights. Of the several subcommittees, the Japanese team of the “Future of Work” subcommittee authored this report.

Interview surveys were previously conducted in other countries as a precursor to this survey. In both the preceding survey and this survey, GPAI adopted a methodology in which students took the initiative to interview the personnel at work sites about the purpose and issues of AI utilization. The survey was conducted based on the belief that students, who are sensitive to technological changes and its applications, will be able to select survey targets and questions that can provide rich insights into the “future” of work in the midst of remarkable changes in the industrial world, including the introduction of AI.

To properly utilize AI at work, it is necessary to understand the industrial structure and social issues in the country and region under study. In Japan, labor shortages in an aging society with a declining birthrate are one of the motivations for the introduction of AI, as are improvements in productivity, diversity, and service quality. While the use of AI in the workplace is advancing, there are also concerns in Japan about the shortage of IT personnel, data management issues, and the impact of AI on fairness and accountability in the working environment.

This survey was conducted on a trial basis over a short period of time, as it was necessary to construct a survey structure and survey items tailored to the Japanese context. As a result, 11 interviews (3 finance, 2 public administration, 2 infrastructure & construction, 1 translation, 1 telecommunications & broadcasting, and 2 nursing care companies and organizations) were conducted with the persons in charge of the companies and public administration.

The survey results indicate that the objectives of AI utilization can be categorized into: addressing human resource shortages, improving service quality, and adapting to changes in the environment and industry. In addition to technological development, each industrial sector is implementing various initiatives, including analysis of business issues, establishment of governance systems, information disclosure, and human resource development. Nonetheless, the challenges of AI utilization include not only the technical issues of AI technology itself such as transparency and fairness, but also those concerning the building of trust between AI and humans, such as redefining the division of roles between AI and humans as well as the dangers of excessive dependence on AI. Finally, there are also challenges related to the social environment, including legal systems, business practices, and culture.

Based on the findings of this study, we conclude with the following two recommendations to GPAI member countries and GPAI committee members.

1.There is a need for country and regional reports on the “Future of Work” survey

2.Student-centered research methodologies is effective and should be promoted

The GPAI is supported by voluntary members. This report will be useful for Japanese companies, organizations, and students who have been and will be cooperating with GPAI activities to promote their understanding of GPAI activities. It will also be useful to GPAI expert committee members who will conduct case studies overseas to study the background of AI and work styles in Japan, as well as the methods and results of the surveys. We hope that this will serve as a reference for their survey.

This report is the result of research conducted by the Global Partnership on AI, the Technology Governance Policy Research Unit of the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo, and Doshisha University’s Work Environment & Science/Technology Research Center.
The full report can be downloaded below.

This report was written by the Japan team of the Global Partnership on AI’s Future of Work. The recommendations in this report are made by the Japan team and do not represent the views of the GPAI, the OECD, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) or Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and related organizations such as companies or local governments that were the subjects of interviews.