The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As the United States celebrates its 242nd birthday, the FIFA World Cup is in full swing. And word came down in June that the 250th birthday bash will coincide with more action on the pitch as the United States hosts the 2026 World Cup together with Canada and Mexico. As the event with the largest global viewership—3.2 billion in 2014—I’m intrigued at how digital delivery with grow this number eight years from now.

This speculation ties in to the key focus of this issue: how our transition to a world of ones and zeroes is changing not only entertainment but almost every aspect of life. Of course, we’ve been “going digital” for decades, but the pace of change has grown so fast that it can be difficult for consumers, businesses, and governments to keep up.

MISSING OUT
As I sat across from Dow Chemical Company Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris for this month’s featured interview, he brought up how technology is adversely affecting the way in which people interact. We were talking about the personal nature of relationships and the importance of communication and of being present. Sure, devices such as smartphones and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook bring us closer together, but they also channel us into little screens. It’s a development that threatens both our personal and professional lives.

His words made me think about the broader pros and cons. I’ve always been deep into tech and whenever possible, I go digital. The replacement of physical media with digital content has made access and consumption incredibly convenient, but I miss the feel of paper as I read a novel, the carefully crafted design of a DVD box set, and the artistic liner notes of my favorite albums. I’ve traded a connection to the physical world for convenience. Most of us have, or are in the process of doing so.

RECONNECTING
For better or worse, this is the future—and the march of digitalization goes on. The task before us is to adapt, to find ways to enrich our lives using technology without letting it become a barrier to the real world.

Some believe that we are destined to become one with our binary creations. Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil has predicted that human and artificial intelligence will merge in 2045. Many agree with him. That may be our future, but—in the here and now—I believe we need to reconnect with our surroundings and with one another. Liveris told me, “I think all of us are going to have to find ways to reconnect with all of the wonderful emotions that human beings are capable of.” And while I love technology, I think he’s right.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.
The task before us is to adapt, to find ways to enrich our lives using technology without letting it become a barrier to the real world.