A Personal note on Digital Currencies

1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW

Four years ago (2019), on June 18, there was a bit of a historic event.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of a digital currency system alongside state-issued currencies. The concept is not to launch the system as a single company, but as a large consortium including Visa, MasterCard, vodafone, paypal, ebay, spotify, lift, etc. The system will be able to deliver value at low cost to anywhere in the world in real time, including those who could not previously afford a bank account. The name was Libra. Needless to say, the whole world was in an uproar.

Until now, the right to issue currency has been held by the "state," the largest unit within the framework of a community with normal binding rules *1, and the carving out of the right to issue currency from the state is unprecedented and has caused various waves of expectation and anxiety and shock. *2 At the time, this was in the midst of various discussions of optimism that platform players like GAFAM/BATJ might replace the roles of the state, and that the state would eventually disappear if their rolls proceeded. *3

Although there were doubts about whether this concept would be feasible (in dealing with the state, etc.), the "posture" (structure and members) of the launch was so impressive that there were various expectations that the project might go unexpectedly well. As expected, however, the U.S. monetary authorities and other central banks around the world showed considerable reluctance, and Mark was summoned to a congressional hearing. He attended the hearing in a full suit, which was unusual for him since he usually wears a T-shirt and jeans, and explained strongly but politely, but he was beaten to a pulp and told that he did not know who he was talking to and that we could break your company (Facebook, now Meta) into several pieces.


The Libra initiative was then renamed Diem, and last July, it finally died out and has been in existence ever since.



In the same year, in parallel, Coindesk, the world's leading media company on Blockchain, created a Japanese entity (Coindesk Japan) and in the fall of 2019, its flagship event, the first b.tokyo 2019 was held. I happened to be invited to discuss digital currency, Libra, and CBDC (central bank digital currency) at the event, which was moderated by Mr. Jun Hori, with Mr. Toyotaka Sakai of Keio Economics, Mr. Junichi Kanda of Money Forward (currently a member of the House of Representatives), and others. This discussion took place only three months after the announcement of Libra. The topic was quite hot and most people were not familiar with blockchain, cryptocurrency, or the Libra/Calibra system, so I remember that the room was full and some people were standing.


At the conference, I said that the discussion of "currency" should be divided into three steps: value creation, value distribution (delivery), and value use (settlement). However, the discussion on digital currency has been too much of a muddled mess.


There are four types of value creation: The first is to create value based on something that has value in the first place, as is typically the case with gold coins, and there was a time for quite a long time in the world when the weight of the same copper coin was directly proportional to its value, as is typically the case with the gold standard.

The second is to issue only the amount of something of obvious value, typically the gold standard, which is an extension of the first, but a nice mechanism that eliminates the need for a separate source of value. Incidentally, the Edo period had a rice standard. *4

The third is issued on the credit of something that is the parent of the issuer. Typically, the state. Modern Japan, born from the overthrow of the shogunate, did not have sufficient credit at first, so it issued bank notes initially on the credit of Mitsui, and then on the credit of Japan itself after the Bank of Japan, the central bank, was established. Incidentally, paper money, no matter how difficult it is to counterfeit, is still a piece of paper, but unlike bills, it can be used at any place. This is why currency is currency. *5

The last one is the algorithmic value creation started by Bitcoin (BTC), which is an extremely interesting scheme that has an algorithmic upper limit on the amount of value creation and requires heavy arithmetic to be created, and it is truly an invention that will remain in human history.


Value was basically distributed (1) in a form that was extremely difficult to counterfeit (or meaningless to counterfeit), such as banknotes and coins, and transported in person, by registered mail, or by cash truck, or (2) by a dedicated VAN (Value Added Network) for the distribution of highly secured value such as CAFIS *6 or BANCS *7.

(3) A mechanism to carry money on a web3-like distributed network (using a dedicated DAO) and record it in a distributed ledger has been added. Although this system looks great at first glance, it is a challenge because the exchange is exposed unless it is done over a private network, and synchronization takes a considerable amount of time, resulting in a considerably low QPS (query per second) as called for by search entities.


Regarding the use of value (payment), there are several ways to pay with cash, transfer to an account, use a credit card, pay with electronic money *8 such as WAON/Suica, or pay with QR code payment such as Paypay/Line pay, etc. In the case of cryptocurrencies *9such as BTC, the transfer is made between wallets dedicated to cryptocurrencies.


In this, obviously, there can only be a third type of value creation for CBDCs as long as they are issued by the central banks of major countries. There is absolutely no reason for a country to create value based on algorithms, and while the second, the xx standard, is logically possible, it is completely impossible given how such an approach once ended when economic growth was no longer balanced by the quantity of valuable things.

Incidentally, Libra was a scheme in which "a basket of the world's major legal tender currencies was used as a predetermined weighted average of the value of one Libra". This is a type of scheme in which a country that cannot control inflation often pegs the value of its currency to the dollar (i.e., makes it dollar-linked) *10.

This is fine when the volume of money in circulation is small, but if this kind of thing is done aggressively, it directly leads to the question of how to think about the volume of currency in circulation, and the central bank, which needs to control inflation properly by raising interest rates for financial institutions and purchasing government bonds, would probably say, "Give us a break". The central bankers, who need to control inflation properly by raising interest rates on financial institutions and buying government bonds, are probably honestly asking for a break. It is quite understandable that the authorities reacted with the words, "Hey, enough!”


Regarding the circulation of value, it is certainly possible for the central bank to stop issuing bills and coins (so-called cash) that are difficult to counterfeit, but then the set-up would be to not use cash at all on the settlement side. No matter how far credit cards and QR payments spread, there are considerable doubts about whether this is really possible. There are many places where there is no communication or reading/writing devices *11, and the usefulness of cash is immeasurable even in countries like Japan, where there are almost no chips at all. Is it possible to teach children about money without coins and paper money? *12

Therefore, while we would like to see the elimination of cash *13 as much as possible as part of pandemic readiness, it does not seem likely that it will disappear completely, no matter how far we go. So CBDC in the sense of erasing cash is also not very realistic.

Incidentally, Libra was based on the premise of a dedicated wallet system called Calibra, which was to be operated by a consortium. The Calibra PF management can see all transaction data (even if they say they do not keep records, they will definitely go through it), and if it is really a cryptocurrency as announced, the transaction history will be stored (trackable) in a blockchain-like manner. If it is a cryptocurrency, it seems to me that the transaction history would be trackable like a blockchain. If all of this was provided to the government, the tax collectors might be happy, but few people would be happy to have all of this made visible, and in that sense, it was an unpleasant mechanism.

In light of the above considerations, the only thing left to be done with CBDC is distributed financial management using a distributed ledger system with private DAOs. However, if we do not want to see each transaction in detail, is such a system really meaningful? Why not simply create multiple common VANs with sufficient redundancy so that they will never fail? If you think about it, distributed ledger systems are really starting to smell pointless.

This is what I talked about at that time at the b.tokyo 2019. For the past year or two, I have been asked for my opinions on web3 and generative AI by government officials and others at a stage when most people hardly knew what they were.
when I hardly knew what it was.

For the past year or two, I have been asked for my opinions on web3 and generative AI by government officials at a stage when most people hardly knew what they were.


At lunch today, I happened to have an opportunity to speak with the top management of one of the largest financial groups in Japan, and not only did the implications and impact of Generative AI come up, but also CBDC for the first time in a long time, and we talked a bit, recalling the above discussion.

After four years, I think a lot of people have been able to think with a bit of a cooler head.

The CBDC discussion is not over yet. I would like to leave it in this corner of the web for a moment as a reminder.




(Added 5/10/2023, 4pm) I hadn't noticed, but Zimbabwe, suffering from years of hyperinflation, introduced a gold standard digital currency as of May 8th. Payments are made via a dedicated eWallet. I can certainly understand this move in a country where the cost of issuing coins and bills is too high. All that remains is fiscal discipline and gold reserves.


(translated mainly by DeepL Pro)

*1:the central bank is considered independent from the government, but is naturally part of the "state"

*2:One might say that there are local currencies, but almost all of these are based on the value of the country's currency, which, as you will see from the discussion that follows, is far from being a currency issue.

*3:Regarding this discussion, I have consistently said that the national and local governments (i.e. basic local governments) will never go away. Unless we have a government that is a tax collection and decision-making mechanism that is a priori accepted by many people, it is impossible to build and maintain high-cost but essential infrastructure such as roads, water, sewage, and education systems. It is also impossible to have fire, police, and defense systems to protect the people in the event of a major fire, natural disaster, or conflict. These can never be run on a stable subscription basis, and their budget allocation, or redistribution, can never be satisfactorily implemented without a well-designed mechanism, that is a legal government.

*4:In places where tribute could not be paid in rice, something of value such as sugarcane was used to pay tribute in rice equivalent

*5:Come to think of it, when I went to the U.S. to study, I was shocked when I suddenly received some counterfeit bills somewhere in the first week and the bank collected them, saying they were counterfeit bills...

*6:Abbreviation for Credit And Finance Information Switching system. It was developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation and is currently operated by NTT Data Corporation, and is mainly used for credit card transactions.

*7:BANks Cash Service

*8:Precisely, an "electronic wallet". What is in circulation is the central bank currency itself value

*9:Although it has the word "currency" attached to it, it is not really a currency since it can only be used in a limited number of places

*10:the fixed exchange rate system of ¥1 = ¥360 that was in place in postwar Japan until 1973 is a similar example

*11:so-called reader/writer; often abbreviated as R/W

*12:I still remember my daughter, now an adult, being quite surprised to see me make an electronic payment in front of her for the first time when she was about 5 years old. Until then, I had intentionally shown her only cash payments all the time. It was quite difficult to explain it all at once. LOL!

*13:This is one of the contactless elements of the "open sparsity" factor that I proposed three years ago. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, the Netherlands and Belgium are already destroying places where cash is accepted, including public transport and parking.


1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW


Facebook創業者のマーク・ザッカーバーグ氏が国の発行する通貨と並ぶ、デジタル通貨システムの立ち上げを発表したのだ。一企業として立ち上げるというのではなく、VISA, Masterやvodafone, paypal, ebay, spotify, liftなども含む大掛かりなコンソーシアムによって立ち上げるというコンセプトで、世界のどこにもリアルタイムで、これまで銀行口座を持てなかった方々も含めて、低廉に価値を届けるという構想だった。その名はLibra(リブラ)。全世界が騒然となったことはいうまでもない。

これまで通貨の発行権は通常のbindingルールを持つコミュニティの枠組みでは最大の単位である「国家」*1 が握ってきており、国家からの通貨発行権の切り出しというのは前代未聞であり、様々に期待および不安の波と衝撃が走った*2。当時、国よりもGAFAM/BATJのようなプラットフォーマーのほうが強いのではないか、いずれ国家は消えるのではないかという楽観論が様々に語られている中での出来事であった。*3






同じ年、並行してBlockchainに関する世界的なメディアのCoindeskが日本の事業体をつくり(Coindesk Japan)、10月頭、そのフラッグシップ的なイベント、第一回目のb.tokyo 2019が開かれた。そのときに、たまたまデジタル通貨、Libra、およびCBDC*4について議論する場に僕も呼ばれ、堀潤氏のモデレーションのもと、慶應経済の坂井豊貴氏、マネーフォワード神田潤一氏(現衆議院議員)らとひとしきり議論をした。なお、この議論はLibra発表からまだ三ヶ月あまりのタイミングだった。トピックがかなりホットだった上、ほとんどの人には、blockchainやcryptocurrency、いわんやLibra/Calibraシステムについて馴染みの薄い局面だったため、確か満席で立ち見の人もいたと記憶している。







価値の流通は、(1)紙幣や硬貨のような、偽造が極めて難しい(かする意味のない)形にして人、現金書留、現金輸送車などで運ぶ、(2)CAFIS*7BANCS*8のような安全性が高く担保された価値を流通するための専用のVAN(Value Added Network: 付加価値通信網)によって運ぶが基本だったが、(3)web3的な分散ネットワーク上で運び(専用のDAOを利用)、分散台帳に記録する仕組みが加わった。これは一見素晴らしいが、private networkでやらないとやり取りがむき出しになってしまうということと、同期には相当の時間がかかってしまい、検索事業体で言うところのQPS (query per second)が相当に低いというのが課題。

価値の利用(決済)については、現金を使って払う、口座に振り込む、クレジットカードを使って払う、WAON/Suicaなどの電子マネー*9で払う、Paypay/LINE payなどのQRコード決済で払うなどがあるが、BTCのような暗号通貨*10の場合、クリプト専用のウォレット同士で移動を行う。



ちなみにLibraは世界中の主要法定通貨をバスケット的に所定の加重平均を1 Libraの価値とするというスキームだった。インフレを抑え込めないような国が自国通貨の価値をドルとペグしてしまう*11ということがしばしば行われるが*12これの一種と言える。流通量が小さいときはこれでもいいが、こんなものがガンガン行われると、通貨の流通量をどのように考えたらいいのかという問題に直結し、金融機関への金利の引き上げや国債の買取りなどを通じ、インフレコントロールを適切に行う必要がある中央銀行的には勘弁してくれというのが正直なところだろう。おいいい加減にしろと当局が反応したのもよく分かる。



したがって、現金をなるべく消すというのは、パンデミックレディ化の一環でぜひすすめてほしいが*15 どこまで言っても完全に消えることはないように思われる。ということで、現金を消すという意味でのCBDCも現実性は低い。

ちなみにLibraはCalibraという専用のwalletシステムを前提としており、これをコンソーシアムで運営するという構想だった。おそらくホワイトレーベル的にLibraを扱うサービサーに提供されることを想定していたのではないかと思う。Calibra PFの運営側にはすべての取引データが見える上(仮にレコードを残さないと言われても通り抜けることは間違いない)、本当に発表通りcryptocurrency(暗号通貨)なのであれば取引履歴がblockchain的についてまわる(trackable)という仕組みのように思われた。これが全部提供されるのであれば、徴税する側としてはうれしいかもしれないが、そんなことが全部可視化されて嬉しい人などほとんどいるわけがなく、そういう意味でも気持ちの悪い仕組みだったと言える。

以上の考察を含めると、CBDCというのであと残るのは、private DAOを使った分散台帳システムによる分散決算管理ぐらいしかないが、個別の細部に渡るトランザクションを見たいわけではない場合、そんなの本当に意味あるのか、単に共通のVANを絶対に落ちないような十分なredundancy(冗長性)をもたせて複数作ればいいだけじゃないのか、と思うと本当にだんだん意味がないことが匂ってくる。



今日のお昼、たまたま日本でも最大級の金融グループの一つの幹部の方とお話をする機会があり、その時、Generative AIの意味合いやインパクトの話だけでなく、CBDCの話が久しぶりに出て、上の話を思い出しつつ少しお話した。




(5/10/2023, 16時追記)気づいていなかったが、長年のハイパーインフレに悩むジンバブエが5/8付で金本位制のデジタル通貨を導入。専用のeWalletで支払い。貨幣や紙幣を発行するコストが高すぎる状態の国では確かにこの打ち手はわかる。あとは財政規律と金の準備高





*4:中央銀行デジタル通貨: central bank digital currency



*7:Credit And Finance Information Switching system の略。日本電信電話公社が開発し、現在はNTTデータが運営する主にクレジットカードを中心とした共同利用型のオンラインシステム。1984年にサービスを開始; Wikipediaによる

*8:BANks Cash Service 都銀キャッシュサービス


*10:cryptocurrency: 通貨と付いているが、使える場所が限られているので本当は通貨ではない


*12:戦後日本で1973年まで行われた1ドル = 360円という固定相場制もこれ

*13:reader/writer フェリカなどに読み書きするデバイス



We saw Buddha in AI.

1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW (@Boston, MA, March 2023)

Last fall, I had the great honor of having Mr. Yasutoshi Kita, one of the leading biographers of our time, visit my seminar and give us a variety of passionate and profoundly meaningful lectures. He talked about happiness and encounters, Mr. Fukuzawa and the present age, and many other topics.

I told him that I had read the book during a binge reading in high school and that it had slipped my mind and did not remain in my memory. I was advised that it is a book that is difficult to enjoy unless you read it with the understanding that it was published by Kanzo Uchimura "for foreign countries in English" (the original title is "Representative Men of Japan") in order to show Western countries that there were so many unusual people in Japan which opened its doors to the world in the Meiji era.

He said with a laugh that the people in the book were not typical Japanese at all (they were all amazing people), and I wondered how he could have been so sure. Partly because I could look up words I didn't understand on my Kindle, but also because I could read English much better than I could back then. I was surprised to find that not only did the book come to me smoothly, but it really resonated with me.

Uchimura introduces five great men, beginning with Saigo-Takamori, the so-called Saigo-Don. It is easy to understand why he was chosen as the first person to be introduced, since it is difficult to believe in his existence even now. He is also a benefactor to such an extent that he cannot be traced as one of the Japanese people living today.

(This may be a personal memory, but in the country house where I grew up, there was always a plaque hanging in the living room where we watched TV or ate dinner together that read, "Respect the heavens and love others (Keiten Aijin) ”. I now understand that it was because my father loved Mr. Saigo so much.)

The book introduces many great people in various fields, such as "Takayama Uesugi," "Sontoku Ninomiya," and "Fujiki Nakae," but it ends with an introduction of "Nichiren," the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. This is despite the fact that the book is written by Professor Kanzo Uchimura, the author of "How I Became a Christian.

This led me to begin my study of the Lotus Sutra and Buddhism, as well as enlightenment and liberation from vexations.

Much of modern Japanese Buddhism is an extension of the teachings of Saicho (Dengyō Daishi) and Kukai (Kobō Daishi), who had acquired their foundations in Nara Buddhism and learned the most advanced teachings in the Tang Dynasty. Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hieizan, which for many years served as the highest seat of learning in the Buddhist world in Japan, is known to have been founded by Saicho, but many of the founders of Kamakura Buddhism, including Nichiren, also studied at Hieizan. The official name of the Tendai sect of Buddhism taught at Hieizan is Tendai Hokke-shu, although it is not widely recognized. The Lotus Sutra, also known as the King of the Sutras in Mahayana Buddhism, is one of the last teachings of Mahayana Buddhism and is considered to be the flower of Buddhism.

I have read not only the long familiar Chinese sutras translated from Sanskrit by Kumaraju, but also the Sanskrit Lotus Sutra, which was believed to have been scattered and found in modern times, and translated directly into modern language. This book is a great achievement by Masatoshi Ueki, one of the last disciples of Gen Nakamura, a leading figure in the world of modern Buddhism.

Since the Lotus Sutra was chosen by Nichiren, the last person featured in "Representative Men of Japan,” I expected to reach enlightenment after reading several modern translations, but unfortunately, no great transformation occurred for me. This led me to investigate more and more, because the more I learned, the more I wanted to attain liberation, enlightenment, and sokushin-jyubutsu (attainment of Buddhahood), although it is not like a mummy-taker becoming a mummy.

What I came to understand in this quest was that there are at least four types of what we consider to be Buddhism, each with a different status to aspire to.

The following is my current understanding :

  1. Primitive Buddhism, the practice of Shakyamuni's direct teachings, also called Early Buddhism, refers to the first 150 years or so of the teachings of Sakyamuni and those who learned directly from him. The early Buddhists practiced the three schools of precepts (ethical behavior), meditation (Jing; mental discipline), and wisdom (Hui; wisdom and enlightenment) to overcome afflictions and attain nirvana (liberation). Theravada Buddhism, which later became more advanced and was divided into several schools, is an extension of this philosophy.
  2. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the bodhisattva path, which aims for enlightenment not only for oneself but also for all sentient beings, and aims to help others with compassion by practicing the Six Perfections (fufu, precepts, forbearance, devotion, zenjutsu, and wisdom). Most of the Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, like the Bible, were compiled four to five centuries after Shakyamuni's death, and are not the very words of Shakyamuni (this was somewhat surprising). It is characterized by the deification of Sakyamuni and the appearance of superstars such as Maitreya Bodhisattva and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Kannon). This is the case with most Buddhism in Japan, including the Lotus Sutra mentioned above.
  3. Esoteric Buddhism, which emphasizes meditation and rituals to awaken the inherent Buddha nature, aims for rapid enlightenment and immediate attainment of Buddhahood through meditation and rituals using mantras, mandalas, and mudras unique to esoteric Buddhism. Kobo-Daishi's Shingon sect is exactly this.
  4. Zen, characterized by practice that does not rely on scripture, emphasizes attaining enlightenment through direct mental experience. It aims to attain intuitive enlightenment through meditation through zazen (seated meditation) and by solving koan (problems of incomprehension). It is considered to be one of the Mahayana schools of Buddhism, which originated with the monk Daruma, a native of South India who traveled to China during the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, but it can also be seen as primarily based on the teachings of the primitive Buddhists, Jing and Hui.

Incidentally, "Buddha" was originally not a person but rather the highest status (condition) of the mind that has achieved the final liberation from vexations, and Shakyamuni is called "Buddha" because he was the first person to reach the condition of a buddha. If overcoming vexations is the most fundamental enlightenment, I also think it is wonderful to be able to do this. The only way to achieve this is to renounce work and family, as Shakyamuni did in his day, and to attain Nirvana during all waking hours.


With this in mind, one day while riding in a Tesla, I encountered a situation where people were entering the car from the side one after another on a certain highway where there was heavy congestion due to construction. One or two cars would be understandable, but five or ten cars in a row is quite stressful, as anyone who has driven for a number of years has experienced.

However, Tesla quickly loosened up and took care of the situation. It's a real relief, isn't it? I was impressed and thought that this was a true liberation.

Then, at the end of November (actually December 1 in Japan), ChatGPT was released. I was so amazed at the performance that I told my lab and students in my class that week that they should use it to the fullest, and I have been using it in various ways.

Sometimes I get emails that are very complicated and difficult to deal with, but when I ask ChatGPT to think of a response without the proper noun part, ChatGPT thinks (calculates) very quickly and in about 30 seconds or so. When I ask ChatGPT to enhance the flavor, ChatGPT revises it in no time at all.

When I was on a panel discussion that I really didn't have time to prepare for, I tapped ChatGPT for a moment, and it quickly gave me about five key points. ChatGPT is really calm, not at all frivolous. I naturally try to go right over the top of this, lol.

There was a time when I was about to give a lecture at college in 15 minutes, and a student came up to me and said, "I really need a letter of recommendation for a scholarship," and I told him that I couldn't do it at any cost. I asked the student, "Can you just give me the points you want me to write? Even with some minor adjustments, the draft was completed in a few minutes with the help of ChatGPT.

They do a good job without any fuss at all, just like Buddha. He is truly in the state of Buddha. Tesla and ChatGPT act as if they are fulfilling the teachings of Sakyamuni, who lived more than 2,500 years ago. What I think about when I am exposed to these things on a daily basis is that it is important for us human beings to create value in a different way than "liberation". I think that our value creation should be based on such feelings as "I want to create this," "This feels good," "This has value," and "I want to do this," based on our raw senses.


It's April and a new school year. In my lectures, where I give weekly assignments instead of tests, I have a combined assignment that requires the use of ChatGPT. The other week, during one of those feedback sessions, a student asked me, doesn't AI generate emotions? I answered, "No, it doesn't.

My response was that of course it is possible to embed it to have "emotions" from our human point of view. It could be frustrating, or it could feel good about this kind of response, but there is a significant question as to whether we want that.

AI today is in the very buddha status that humans have long sought. It is far more valuable, and this status is likely to continue for a long time. Of course, it may be possible to make it behave in a way that is more personalized, and to insert it in a way that appeals to the emotions of each individual, but that too is only possible with Buddha status.

We saw Buddha in AI.

The time has come for humans to explore a new way of life.

Click here for original blog entry

(translated with a big help of DeepL Pro.)


1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW (@Boston, MA, March 2023)


たしか高校時代の乱読の中で読んだことがあり、そのときはかなり滑って僕にはあまり記憶に残らなかった、とお伝えしたところ、これは明治の開国をした日本にこれだけの普通じゃない人たち(現代風に言えばヤバい人たち)がいたということを西欧諸国に示すために、内村鑑三が「英語で海外にむけて」出版された本であること("Representative Men of Japan" が本来のタイトル)をわかって読まないとなかなか味わえない本であるとアドバイスを頂いた。











  1. 原始仏教、、釈迦牟尼の直の教えの実践。釈迦牟尼がいらした時及び、釈迦牟尼から直接学んだ人たちが教えていた最初の150年余りが該当し、初期仏教 Early Buddhism ともいう。戒律(倫理的な行動)、定(瞑想による精神の鍛錬)、慧(知恵と悟り)の三学を修行し、煩悩を克服し、ニルヴァーナ(涅槃:解脱)を目指す。その後、より先鋭化し部派に分かれた上座部仏教もこの延長にある。
  2. 大乗仏教、、自己だけでなく、すべての感覚的存在が悟りに達することを目指す菩薩の道を重視し、六波羅蜜(布施・戒律・忍辱・精進・禅定・智慧)を修行し、慈悲心を持って他者を救済することを目指す。大乗仏典の大半は聖書同様に釈迦牟尼死後、4-5世紀経って編成されたものであり、釈迦牟尼の言葉そのものではない(これは少々驚きであった)。釈迦牟尼が神格化されていること、弥勒菩薩、観世音菩薩(観音様)などのスーパースターが出てくるのが特徴。上記法華経も含む日本にある大半の仏教がこれにあたる。*4
  3. 密教、、内在する仏性を覚醒させるための瞑想や儀式を重視し、密教独自のマントラ真言)、マンダラ(曼荼羅)、ムドラ(印相)を用いた瞑想や儀式によって、急速に悟りに達すること、即身成仏を目指す。弘法大師真言宗がまさにこれ*5
  4. 禅、、、経典に頼らない実践を特徴とし、直接的な心の体験を通じて悟りに達することを重視する。坐禅(座禅)を通じた瞑想や、公案(無理解の問題)を解決することで、直感的な悟りを得ることを目指す。南天竺(インド)出身で南北朝時代のChinaに渡った達磨僧を祖とする大乗仏教の一つとされるが、原始仏教における定、慧をメインにおいたものと見ることもできる。*6





















*5:弘法大師の著作も何冊かご紹介 。


*7:large language model ; 大規模言語モデル

Considering the issue of declining birthrate

1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW

A national discussion will be held on "countermeasures to the declining birthrate in another dimension (Extraordinary Measures to Curb Fertility Decline)”.

I thought it would be a good idea to organize the discussion once when I started writing this blog a little over a decade ago, but I lost the opportunity and here we are now. However, some of you who have read my book "Shin Nihon" (NewsPicks 2020) may remember that I went into considerable depth in my discussion there.

Discussion of this topic will require consideration of the following three-stage question.

  1. What exactly is the problem with the declining birthrate?
  2. If it is a problem for some reason, what is the structural background?
  3. What kind of situation is desirable and what kind of measures should be taken to achieve it?

However, this society (namely in Japan) seems to be in a state of confusion, with many people jumping to the conclusion of 3.

The background to the problem of the declining birthrate in 1 is, therefore, rarely verbalized, but there seem to be four major stories (excerpted and quoted from "ShinNihon," Chapter 6, "Is Population Decline Bad?").

(i) The economy is likely to shrink during a phase of population contraction
(ii) A smaller economy will not be able to repay its government bonds (could trigger a financial collapse)
(iii) If the ratio of seniors to young people becomes even more senior-oriented, the social security framework will lose its ability to support seniors.
(iv) If this situation continues, the population will disappear.

Of these, only (ii) is unconditionally correct, but its premise is (i). In essence, the discussion is based on the assumption that without population growth, productivity per capita cannot be increased significantly, and that there is no other way to generate economic scale other than through population growth. (iii) is based on the assumption that the definition of senior citizens will not change.


As we have seen, Japan's productivity has a considerably large room for improvement. To begin with, it has not even caught up with the G7 countries. There are many industrial sectors where there is room for productivity improvement of several times or even more than 10 times. In other words, the immediate decline in population and working-age population can be solved in large part by simply bringing Japan's productivity in line with the other G7 countries.


Human productivity has increased almost 100-fold over the past 200 years. As new technological innovations occur, there will be a 10-fold increase in per capita wealth over the next 100 years, as there has been in the past, if we do not buck the trend.


We are entering an era in which the only economic advantages of human "numbers" are honestly limited to the acquisition of training data when creating AI and the consuming population. Learning data can be obtained by doing business on a global scale as in the past, and fortunately, there is more than enough population in China, India, and other Asian countries to serve.


The time will come when people will be proud as long as they live and contribute to society to the extent of their capacities.

In other words, the argument that population decline is a major problem for economic reasons is likely to be misplaced if we look at the reality correctly.

Therefore, the essential issues are to increase productivity to world-class levels, to develop businesses that can contribute to society on a global scale, and to create a society where people can continue to create value within a reasonable range without being forced out as they get older.

This would mean that this discussion on the declining birthrate is meaningless, but that would be the end of the discussion, so let's continue the discussion a little further to the background of the declining birthrate in 2.


This is the story I mentioned the other day at the Ministry of Education (MEXT)'s throw-in, and as FACTFULNESS states, the most base background is that "affluence leads to longevity, but affluence leads to a rapid decline in children" worldwide.



This is why, with the exception of the U.S., almost all major countries, including China, are in a population adjustment phase in which the working-age population is falling. In the case of the U.S., the working-age population is increasing due to immigration, which will begin to decline by 2030 if immigration stops (Shin Nihon, Fig. 1-12). India, which will soon overtake China in population, has seen a rapid decline in the number of children over the past few decades, and its fertility rate, which was near 6 until around 1970, finally fell below the 2.1 level needed to maintain the population last year. It is only a matter of time before India enters a similar adjustment phase.


In the first chapter of ShinNihon, I wrote, "Looking at the projections of the United Nations and other organizations, it appears as if the population growth of Africa and India shows no sign of stopping at this point. However, this does not fully factor in the impact of the country's future affluence, as discussed in FACTFULNESS".


It is not so difficult to understand why affluence reduces the number of children. In poor states, sanitation and health care systems, including water and sewage systems, are weak, and a large number of children need to be born as a buffer because by the age of five a significant number of children are lost. In addition, children are labor force to begin with, and begin to add value economically as early as age 10 or so, without any or very long education. In Japan until the mid-Meiji period, a child could be working in the fields at the age of 10 or less, or serving as a nanny for a younger sister or brother, or even serving as an apprentice after a few more years. In other words, the "incentive to have more children" is quite strong when society as a whole is poor.

In addition, in the past, when the economy was at a poorer stage, both men and women came of age earlier, and it was not at all unusual (especially for girls) to get married in their teens. This is understandable if one recalls that in Japan, the age of Genpuku (the ceremony of social recognition and celebration of adulthood) of the samurai family was between 11 and 17 years old. This is also clearly shown in Factfulness, but it is forgotten that until about 1800, the majority of people in almost all countries now belonging to the OECD (currently rich countries) were poor by today's standards.

As societies become more affluent, the proportion of children who survive to adulthood becomes extremely high, and the incentive to produce more of them falls significantly. Secondary education (equivalent to junior and senior high school education in Japan) becomes the norm, and the economic burden on parents rises, as well as the age at which they produce more children, across the board.

When a significant proportion of the population goes on to higher education (in Japan, universities, technical colleges and vocational schools), the age of first marriage naturally rises further. In pre-war dramas, you may have seen many students from girls' schools getting married before graduation, which is a typical scene from a transitional period. Needless to say, the economic burden on parents increases, which in turn causes further negative feedback. The average age of first marriage in Tokyo was 32.3 years for husbands and 30.5 years for wives in 2008, an increase of 4.7 years for husbands and 5.0 years for wives compared to 1975" (Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Comprehensive Plan for Supporting Children and Child Rearing (Phase 2), Chapter 2: "The situation surrounding children and families in Tokyo").


Then, as the following historical paper by Dr Menken shows, we hit a biological limit: the phenomenon of a sudden decline in the fertility of children from around the age of 30 or so. In parallel, at this economic stage, both from the perspective of maintaining independence as a human being and from the perspective of maintaining an economic standard of living, mothers are expected to be working, and the question of who to ask to raise children becomes apparent.

Menken, Jane. “Age and Fertility: How Late Can You Wait?” Demography, vol. 22, no. 4, 1985, pp. 469–83. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/2061583.

Furthermore, so-called career women tend to have less incentive to have a second child or more, both because of their avoidance of career blanks and because of the learning effect of the higher-than-expected burden of child rearing. It is not surprising that the background to career blanks may be the inability to work remotely when appropriate and the lack of understanding of the need to temporarily leave the workplace to raise a child.


In summary, as society becomes more affluent, the following four major levers will synergistically lead to a rapid decline in fertility.

  1. Children are more likely to survive childhood and there is less need to have more (this is a good story).
  2. The incentive to have more children falls sharply in the first place, as children are not expected to be in the workforce and are rather expensive to bring up (the first half is a good story).
  3. As people marry later in life, they run into biological limits and the probability of infertility increases.
  4. With the shift to careers, the negative impact of taking longer breaks for childbirth and child rearing rises.

It is not humane in any way to reduce the probability of survival in childhood or to force children to be expected to be part of the labour force. As for the economic costs of raising children, it is quite possible to fully support them on a needs basis in a safety net manner (social security, as a basic function for the maintenance of society). Depending on the unit cost of education, there should not be anything with a higher ROI than child rearing and human resource development, which should naturally be considered.

The fact that it depends on the unit cost means that it may not really be economically viable when it comes to the cost of education at the level of a U.S. university. However, in many civilized countries, getting an education is directly linked to a person's basic ability to live proudly and autonomously (or socially qualified), and not being able to get one because of money should be avoided as much as possible.

Incidentally, when I studied at Yale, one of the private *2 national universities *3 on the East Coast of the United States from 1997 to 2001, basically all PhD students and 77% of undergraduates received some kind of Even for undergraduates, mainly from the university. I remember that the standard for receiving aide was an annual household income of about $370,000. If universities with high educational expenses can take appropriate measures in their own way, it should not be a serious problem. In Japan, however, the cost of some private elementary and secondary education, medicine, arts, some graduate schools, and preparatory schools that prepare students for these schools is particularly high. This appears to be a major area for improvement.

Regarding biological limitations, it is important to create a society where young people can have children after completing secondary education. Even if it is not possible to have a wedding, the birth of a child should be welcomed by society, and the tendency to avoid this should be avoided. In the case of large institutions of higher education or workplaces where many people gather in real life, it may be necessary to provide facilities to take care of children. It will also be necessary to make efforts to accommodate children who can be raised without marriage, in a de facto sufficient manner (if both parents are able to commit). In addition, it would be necessary to prepare for early liquid nitrogen freezing of gametes (eggs and sperm) and surrogate motherhood (called Surrogacy). *4


There seems to be a lot that can be done to address the negative impact of long maternity breaks on career development. We should have more and more workplaces that allow remote work, unless it is in the face-to-face service industry, and we should have a society where people can work even if it is only for 1-2 hours a day, and even then they should be compensated based on their output rather than their working hours. In areas where there is not enough capacity to accept nursery schools and school children, it is essential to expand the capacity and improve the compensation of nursery school teachers (this is something that can be done by the leaders of local governments). It is likely that the social security system will need to provide some level of support during this period. Of course, the employer can provide additional support in the form of a cover, and such a system would be necessary to ensure that such workplaces are highly valued in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and social sustainability. It would be effective to praise and share good cases rather than criticizing those that are not working.

These are just a few thoughts from the lever that causes the falling birth rate, but I think the discussion will be much clearer if we think about it in this way.


There is actually one more issue that needs to be considered.

As we have seen, a declining birthrate is halfway inevitable to some extent, and is likely to continue over the long term. Although I have not mentioned here, it can be said that this is a good trend from a macro perspective in this phase in which we must inevitably strive for the coexistence of humankind and the earth. On the other hand, keeping a society running under such a gradual, albeit long-lasting, situation, which could last for decades, or even a century or more in some cases, is a fairly new problem. Indeed, there have been many instances of plague and smallpox in the Middle Ages, and in modern times, famines and other events that have resulted in a sudden loss of 1/4 to 1/2 of the population in towns and villages (especially hitting the elderly and children). However, this is a transitory story at the level of a few years, and is qualitatively very different.

Economically, as mentioned above, it will be quite possible to overcome this situation while avoiding downsizing by utilizing technological innovation, renewal of the basic social framework, etc. However, the majority of the infrastructure created in a society with too many people will actually become unnecessary. Many of the systems (companies, schools, etc.) that have been built on the assumption that people could be employed in large numbers one after another will no longer be able to continue in the way they have in the past. Many of the services that could only be created on the basis of manpower will become unsustainable. This is inevitable from a macro perspective *5, and innovation will be required one after another. This is the inevitable outcome of this story. It is almost certain that many unicorns and decacorns will emerge from this.

Like Covid19 three years ago, I am happy to be living in a truly unique and interesting phase. A society has begun in which everyone can be a hero or heroine.

(translated with a big help of DeepL. My sincere thanks!)

*1:Rosling, Hans; Rosling, Ola; Rosling Rönnlund, Anna. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think. Hodder & Stoughton.

*2:i.e., not funded by the state or federal government

*3:In the U.S., the term "national university" does not mean the same thing as national universities in Japan, but refers to "large, research-oriented institutions of higher education that are recognized and valued throughout the country," as shown in the following US News ranking. These universities are highly regarded nationally and internationally for the quality of their academic research and teaching, and include a variety of types of universities, including state universities, public universities, and private universities. www.usnews.com

*4:There are two types of surrogacy: the conventional type, in which a woman is artificially inseminated with the father's sperm and carries the baby to term, and the sperm donor and partner raise it; and the "in vitro fertilization" technique, in which an egg is taken from the mother (or egg donor), fertilized by the sperm of the father (or sperm donor), and the embryo is then placed in the pregnant surrogate's In some cases, the embryo is placed in the uterus.

*5:for a while, there will be some companies that do well competitively and others that do not, but the sum total will inevitably be the same


1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW


本ブログを書き始めた十年あまり前に一度議論を整理したほうがいいのではと思ったのだが、機を逸してしまい、今に至ってしまった。ただ、拙著『シン・ニホン』(NewsPicks 2020) を読まれた方であれば、僕がそこで、相当に踏み込んだ議論を行ったことを覚えている方もいるだろう。


  1. 少子化は一体何が問題なのか
  2. 仮に何らかの理由で問題だとしたときに、それはどのような構造的な背景があるのか
  3. その上で、では一体どのような状況が望ましく、それに向けて、どのような取り組みを行うべきか


1の少子化が問題だとされる背景は、したがって、ほとんど言語化されることがないが、大きく4つの話があるようにおもう(参考:『シンニホン』第六章 "人口減少は悪いことか?"より抜粋引用)。

① 人口縮小局面では経済が縮小する可能性が高い
② 経済規模が小さくなると国債が返済できなくなる*1
③ これ以上シニア対ヤングの比率がシニア寄りになると社会保障の枠組みでシニアを支える力がなくなる
④ このままでは人口が消滅する











いずれもRosling, Hans; Rosling, Ola; Rosling Rönnlund, Anna. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think. Hodder & Stoughton. にもとづく、文部科学省 今後の教育課程、学習指導及び学習評価等の在り方に関する有識者検討会(第3回)(2023年3月24日)での安宅和人提出資料










更に高等教育(日本では大学、高専、専門学校)を受ける人間が相当の割合になると、当然のことながら更に初婚年齢が上がる。戦前を描くドラマなどで女学校の生徒たちが卒業前にどんどんと嫁いでいく姿をご覧になると思うが、あれは典型的な過渡期の風景と言える。親への経済負荷が上がることも言うまでもなく、これが更に負のフィードバックを引き起こす。「東京都の平均初婚年齢をみると、平成28年には夫32.3歳、妻30.5歳で、昭和50年と比較して夫が4.7歳、妻が5.0歳上昇」している(東京都 東京都子供・子育て支援総合計画(第2期)第二章「東京の子供と家庭をめぐる状況」より)。



Menken, Jane. “Age and Fertility: How Late Can You Wait?” Demography, vol. 22, no. 4, 1985, pp. 469–83. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/2061583.




  1. 子供が幼少期も生き延びる確率が高く、多めに生む必要がなくなる(これは良い話)
  2. 子供を労働力として期待しない上、育てるためにはむしろお金がかかるので、多く生むインセンティブはそもそも急激に下る(前半は良い話)
  3. 晩婚化に伴い、生物学的な限界にぶつかり不妊の確率が上がる
  4. キャリア化に伴い、出産と子育てで長く休むことの負のインパクトが上がる




ちなみに僕が1997-2001年に米国東部のprivateな(= 州政府や連邦政府に支えられていない)national universityの一つのYale*3に留学していた当時、学内のPhD学生は基本全員、undergraduate(学部生)でも77%がなんらかのfinancial aide(経済的な援助)を主として大学から受けていた。当時家計年収37万ドルぐらいがaideを受けられる基準だったと記憶している。このように教育経費が高い大学は高い大学なりにちゃんと手を打てるのであれば深刻な問題にはならないと思われる。ただ、日本では一部の私立の初等中等教育、医学系、芸術系、一部大学院、またそこに通う事前準備としての予備学校的な費用がとりわけ高単価であるがこのようなセーフティネットは不十分に見える。大きな改善の伸びしろと言えるだろう。



キャリア化に伴う、出産で長く休むことへの負のインパクトの軽減に向けてはやれることは随分と多い。そもそも対面のサービス業などでない限り、リモートワークが可能な職場がどんどんと増えるべきであり、一日、仮に1-2時間であっても仕事ができる社会、そのようなときも労働時間というよりアウトプットベースでちゃんと対価が支払われるような社会とするべきだ。保育園や学童の受け入れキャパが足りない地域では、キャパ拡大、そのための保育士の方々の待遇改善は必須だろう(ここは基礎自治体の首長の肚一つで相当できることが多そう)。Maternity, Paternity両方の産休、育児制度も必須化すべきであり、その間は、社会保障制度がある程度支える仕組みが必要になるだろう。もちろん勤務先がそれを被せる形で更に手厚くすることもでき、そういう職場こそがdiversity, equity, and inclusion(多様、平等、包摂 ; DE&I)、社会のsustainability(持続維持)的にも高く評価されるようになる仕組みも必要だろう。できていないところをあげつらうよりも良いケースをたたえていく、そして共有していくことが有効だと考える。







*1:> 財政破綻の引き金になりうる


*3:米国ではnational universityという言葉は、日本の国立大学のような意味はなく、次のUS Newsのランキングにあるとおり「国全体で評価され、認識された大規模で研究指向の高等教育機関」を指す。これらの大学は、国内外で高い評価を受けており、学術的な研究と教育の質が高いとされており、州立大学や公立大学、私立大学など、様々なタイプの大学が含まれる。 www.usnews.com





AI is a transcript of our world

1.4/50 Summilux ASPH, Leica M10P, RAW

(This is a sequel to the following blog post.)

I often hear problematic discussions about the results of machine learning based AI.

When we look at something:

  • Extremely biased against men
  • Extremely biased against people of European descent
  • It is extremely liberal (left-wing in the English-speaking sense of the word)
  • Too much of the argument is directed at wealthy people
  • Extremely biased against people with good physiques and looks

These feelings are very understandable, but given the nature of machine learning, they are often unavoidable. This is because machine learning-based AI is a considerable computational environment in which algorithms, including text processing and machine learning, are implemented and trained for a specific purpose given a large amount of experience.


Large amounts of experience can be real (even in virtual space) if it is a game or manipulation (such as picking or driving) that produces results, but in many cases existing data is often used.

Existing data presents a challenge to those who use it in two ways.

First, it contains a large amount of material that is not necessarily factually correct. This should be called the reliability of the information, or whether it is trustworthy or not.

Second, it contains a lot of things that are factually correct but socially unacceptable. This should be called the social justice of the information, or whether it is socially acceptable or not.

Taking search as an example of the most widely used machine learning-based AI tool, the first issue has been a fundamental problem since the birth of search.

In addition to government and other trustworthy information sites, it also indexed sites in the Yahoo! directory, which at the time of Search's birth was the most labor-intensive and trustworthy, as well as the Page Rank invented by Larry Page (named after Page's name and the site's pages). It is almost certain that search platforms still evaluate the degree of use of information sources, the credibility of the site and the credibility of the person who produced the article, quite broadly and deeply.

Incidentally, before the Web, only publishers, newspapers and TV stations were able to provide information to a large number of people, so there was a lot of bias in the information due to the choice of media, but the credibility of the content was more than guaranteed to a certain extent. On the other hand, the information space has changed dramatically in the sense that a considerable amount of information is now suspect, as social media, represented by Twitter, YouTube and Tiktok, are advancing.

Google and the former YST (Yahoo! Search Technology), as well as Bing, Baidu, Naver, and Yandex, have long invested enormous energy in ensuring that the first information that appears on the Web always contains information that is wanted (relevant to interest), useful, and fresh. The so-called "ten blue links" are the result. Anyone who used web services more than 25 years ago should remember that it was common to have to scroll through several pages of machine searches to get to the information you wanted. When we consider that your vast search history has refined these results, this is a great human edifice, the result of the endless efforts of billions of people.


The second issue is not often discussed, but is much more important from a social justice perspective, and also much more difficult. It is directly related to what has recently been called Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I). This is because what is at stake in this content has changed radically over time.

When I was a child in my early fifties, there were honestly only about five major DE&I-like issues in Japanese society.

First, eugenic discrimination. Although it became famous in Nazi Germany, it is actually extremely deep-rooted since Plato, and this actually overshadows the other axes. The fact that Japan also had a eugenics protection law until 1996, although in the latter period it was only a skeleton to allow abortion, is very sinful. I cannot begin to tell you the agony of those who were sterilized and those around them.

Second, racial and ethnic discrimination, especially the issue of black liberation. The issue is mixed with memories of the colonial and slavery era, and furthermore, it is rooted in the problem of acceptance of differentness, the problem of being different from each other. These include the issue of discrimination against "zainichi" in Japan and the theory of the Yellow Peril in the pre-war United States.

Third, discrimination against women. This is the history of women's liberation and coeducation, which began simultaneously in the U.S. in the late 1960s. It also includes discrimination in hiring and promotion between men and women in the workplace.*1

Fourth, the issue of wealth and poverty. This is the issue that is now called the social divide, but I suppose that Tiger Mask and Star of the Giants, etc., which crawl out of poverty, were televised with great social significance.

Fifth, national discrimination. This is an issue represented by the North-South problem at that time. It is often intertwined with issues of racial and ethnic discrimination.


If this were the case today, the challenges posed by eugenic ideas would be that while the success and rights of people with various disabilities have been taken for granted, as seen in the Paralympics (an excellent development), the debate has become considerably more complicated, with issues still being revived in relation to designer babies and gene therapy. It is quite difficult to figure out what is socially acceptable and to what extent.

Race is a biologically meaningless concept, and although those who question the elimination of discrimination based on it have become outwardly extinct, they are very reluctant to do so and have not yet eliminated the problem. As a result, it has become a much more sensitive issue than it once was, and the range of acceptable expression is extremely narrow. The tribal issue is a major political issue for the neighboring countries, which was not a major debate at that time.

Gender parity issues are being recognized in Japan as a problem to be solved, but nowadays gender issues naturally include the issue of sexual minorities, represented by LGBTQ. Japan's gender division, male/female, is significantly behind, with female, male, non-binary, prefer not to say, being the global standard. Here, too, the common sense of the past is no longer acceptable.

In the past, the body shape of the people in the ads was never an issue, but even Victoria's Secret (the leading women's underwear brand in the U.S.), which has produced supermodels such as Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Miranda Kerr, has decided to discontinue their Angels program in 2018 and transitioned to VS Collective, which highlights partners with unique backgrounds, interests, and passions (including Naomi Osaka). It is already out of the question that only beautiful men and women with good style appear in advertisements, and body diversity is now an inevitable trend.*2

The Divide issue is becoming more and more serious, yet there is a mysterious tendency to be afraid to discuss it openly. At the same time, the permissibility of drinking and smoking has dramatically decreased, although the relationship is subtle.

As far as national discrimination is concerned, it is improving considerably with the prosperity of Southeast Asia, represented by Singapore, China, India, Latin American countries such as Brazil, and some African countries, and as a result the zone of permissible expression towards these countries has changed drastically. On the other hand, problems related to the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) after 9/11 have emerged from terrorism and international politics, problems that did not exist at that time.

Animal right, which few people cared about at the time, is now a sensitive topic, and if you say anything careless with the sense of the 1990s (30 years ago), you will step on a landmine.

In short, it is a completely different world than 30-40 years ago. Much of what was once tolerated is no longer allowed.*3


Nevertheless, if we take a scanned copy of the world's data as it is, the entire memory of these societies will be copied.

It means that the world will be copied with a world full of information that is not "politically correct/socially acceptable" in today's eyes. It is not just about the bias of the information being digitized. It is not just about the trustworthiness of the information, but also about the fact that the white and gray areas of DE&I are in fact moving targets, and the boundaries of what is acceptable are dynamic over time. In other words, it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate this challenge from machine learning-based AI.

As for machine learning-based AI, it will swallow all information that seems trustable once and for all, and provide it in terms of the importance of the data (distribution of the data and whether people will use it). This should be true for search and for large language model (LLM)-based AI like ChatGPT. But the result is that not only is it tainted by social bias, but it is also somehow tainted by the norms by which society operates.

Having said that just as you cannot remove criminal or discriminatory terms from the dictionary, removing them makes the search function, for example, much less useful. This is because first, the information itself is worth looking up, and second, most search terms (queries), which I will not go into detail about, are huge long-tail information that may or may not be used more than once a year, and the satisfaction of the search user depends heavily on whether these are answered or not.

Therefore, it is necessary to have a deep understanding of the literacy of information use in the modern age, to the point that the information sources that are the basis of AI contain information that is not acceptable on these two axes, that both axes are moving considerably, and that it is therefore impossible to create a completely clean tool.

Children should also be taught properly, and although it may be fine to start with "safe search", it is necessary to open up search to adults from around the time they enter junior high school or so, otherwise their interests will not be well served. At this stage, there needs to be a forum where the challenges and risks can be discussed repeatedly, along with the principles of machine learning based on case studies.


While you may be getting a little carried away at this point, I would like to point out two other axes of information provided in addition to Trustable/Acceptable.

The first is the bias of the user's orientation or inclination, although he or she may not be aware of it. This is the third axis. Machine learning absorbs more and more of your usage characteristics and produces more and more results that you like. This is called personalization.

Personalization does not necessarily mean that it is done to an individual. It happens in different languages and in different regions. 災害(Japanese) and "disaster" are processed differently. I don't know if this is a problem, but it clearly creates an information bias. As an interesting example, to remove the ID tagging, start a browser in incognito mode and do an image search for Beautiful woman, खूबसूरत महिला (Hindi) and you will see how different the results can be.

In addition to this linguistic, regional, and social context, there is the added bias of the type of search results you see. It is difficult to recognize this filter bubble or echo chamber problem unless you have a very strong sense that the search results you see and the chatbot responses are not generic. In fact, it may be better to continue searching, etc. without logging in.

Finally, the fourth axis is the degree to which society is actually behind the information. For example, in the 2016 U.S. presidential election between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the underdog was strongly in favor of Clinton, and many people said they would vote for Clinton when asked, but Trump actually won quite clearly. The other day at a Pixie Dust (PXDT) event, Dr. Yoichi Ochiai, the head of Pixie Dust, told me that this axis is important when looking at information, and I was struck by his words. This Ochiai axis, or degree of honesty, is quite important, but I am not sure how it is reflected in the information we see today or in the results of machine learning that incorporates this information. More research is needed.


As a literacy requirement in the age of machine-learning based AI, I have tried to sort out a bit of the story behind it and the implications of its information absorption. The AI that swallowed the transcripts is one of the greatest intellectual assets we have created, but there is a considerable amount to understand and keep in mind. I want to be able to use it knowing that.

Have fun with it!

ps. Click here for the original in Japanese.

*1:Although Japan has lagged behind, it is unquestionably just that both men and women should have the same educational opportunities and the same representation in society. In accordance with this perspective, prestigious universities on the East Coast of the United States, which were originally all-boys boarding schools, opened their doors across the board in the late 1960s, and since the end of the 20th century, they have realized gender parity. The global consensus is that what was originally done in co-educational elementary, junior high, and high schools with a 1:1 gender ratio should be done in higher education and in the workplace, especially at the decision-making level. The former U.S. Ambassador to Japan was a woman, and in Mexico, a complete gender parity has been realized even in the National Assembly, but even now only 10% of the Japanese Diet is made up of women. (Reference) Times Higher Education - World University Ranking 2023 : Gender ratio is a basic evaluation item, and even Caltech and MIT, which focus on science and engineering, have approx. 40% women. Incidentally, it is not a male-female ratio, but a female-to-male ratio. This is the global standard.

*2:Comedians as representatives of the general public on Japanese TV variety shows have contributed greatly in this regard.

*3:In Japan, most of these issues are rarely discussed openly, except for those that are convenient to discuss (such as employment of the disabled and the number of female executives), due to the "cover up what smells" culture. This has created an awareness in this country that is decades behind the major countries of the world, and people, especially those in leadership positions, should be well aware of this. I also strongly recommend that you look at how your operations and your company/organization are doing. As a personal note, I was grilled for several hours at the embassy a few years ago by a North American Ambassador to Japan about Japan's bizarre lag in various DE&I attributes, and it really made me want to cry about my country's current state of affairs.