3X and Mutual Sphere Concepts to Catapult Society into the Future


Key Points

  • Both sustainability and prosperity must be balanced in light of forthcoming “10 billion population and 100-year life era”
  • 3X and Mutual Sphere concepts offer key to desirable future
  • Individuals will become increasingly independent and dispersed, and maintaining coordination among them will give birth to new value

1. The Forthcoming “10 Billion Population and 100-Year Life Era”

The world's population will reach 10 billion by 2070.* Also, the average lifespan will lengthen, with developed countries reaching 100 years. The 20th century model of society is insufficient to sustain an era with both a 10 billion population and 100-year lifespan. Under such a model that prioritizes economic rationality and material affluence, 3.3 earths would be necessary to sustain 10 billion people at the current Japanese standard of living.

In order to avoid such a situation, society must make the shift to a 21st century model that balances both prosperity and sustainability. This 21st century model will require the simultaneous realization of two conditions. The first condition is “well-being”. The second condition is a safe, secure, and sustainable world for future generations.

Individual well-being is comprised of three critical elements: 1) maintenance of health and the realization of one's full mental and physical potential, 2) respect for one’s diversity and solid relationships, and 3) one’s creation of new value and self-realization. In short, well-being in the future will require good health, quality relationships, and self-realization.

Two critical elements standout for ensuring a safe, secure, and sustainable world for future generations: 1) resilience against natural disasters and infectious diseases, and 2) conservation of the environment through the effective use of resources.

Action must be taken immediately to ensure that in 50 years all 10 billion humans can enjoy a life of wellbeing. Such resolve is a prerequisite for a sustainable world in the 22nd century.

2. Two Key Concepts: 3X and Mutual Sphere

There are two key concepts behind building a desirable future world. 3X, the first concept, refers to the Digital Transformation (DX), Bio Transformation (BX), and Communication Transformation (CX)§, with BX and CX coined by MRI. In each, advanced technology will transform both individuals and society as a whole. Mutual sphere, the second concept, refers to a future form of community where new value is generated by individuals through sophisticated collaboration.

DX is characterized by the role digital technologies will play in transforming society including AI, IoT, and big-data utilization. DX will enable humanity to achieve prosperity, thus transcending simple efficiency and convenience. DX will also demonstrate effectiveness in visualization, quantification, and interconnection of a wide range of value.

BX will enable the enhancement of human capabilities through advancements in fields such as brain science and human-machine interface. Genome analysis is another such field that will affect dramatic change. Specifically, the technology will enable tailor-made medical treatment on an individual basis. In addition, food will come to be produced in a way that contributes to environmental conservation by making use of biotechnology such as cultured meat and food printers.
Diagram 1: 3X to Transform World
Diagram 1: 3X to Transform World
CX, a fusion of DX and BX, will enable new relationships and connectivity free from constraints of time and space. CX will revolutionize the quantity and quality of communication. When transmitted digitally, information is currently limited to audio and visual forms, but with further refinement of tactile-transmission technologies, information will come to be transmitted in haptic forms as well. Through emotion visualization tools, projected for future sophistication, emotions will become legible using only brain wave data. Considered until recently as mere fiction, telepathy is poised to become a reality.

The second concept, the mutual sphere, is an MRI original vision of the ideal form of future community. The mutual sphere is a stage that transcends both time and space on which diverse individuals sharing common goals can come together to create new value. This community model of the future will prove to be indispensable in achieving self-realization, greater prosperity, and worldwide sustainability.

In contemporary society, the public-private dichotomy has neared the end of its efficacy as the world faces growing disparity and a deteriorating environment. Moving forward, a mutual sphere, focused the connection between individuals and their support for one another, will bridge the public and private, creating new value through the resulting harmony.

For most of history, human life has centered around the act of eating. The accompanying need to ensure sufficient provisions resulted in agrarian communities, working together to cultivate fields as well as nurture community and familial bonds. However, the Industrial Revolution ignited an insatiable desire for greater material wealth, typified by the emergence of corporations as a form of community.

Although humanity has in fact achieved for the most part the goals of staying alive and material fulfillment, interpersonal relationships have been compromised in the process. Furthermore, the spread of COVID-19 has greatly limited face-to-face communication, significantly hindering traditional relationships as well as increasing the independence and dispersion of individuals.

If technological innovation via 3X proceeds without a change in the way society operates, independence and dispersion could further isolate or even divide individuals. The mutual sphere offers one solution as individuals will be connected virtually and psychologically through their common goals and values. 3X and the mutual sphere will revolutionize traditional communities based on physical location, familial bonds, and economic activity. Further, the mutual sphere will make it possible for all to find self-realization through the pursuit of interests, create value through collaboration, and share this value with others.

As the 20th century model of society becomes obsolete, 3X and the mutual sphere will fuel the transition to an independent and dispersed yet coordinated society, indispensable to ensure both prosperity and sustainability.

3. 3X and Mutual Sphere Already in Existence

Early renditions are already taking form of society based on 3X and the mutual sphere concepts—one case is in Japan and the other Germany.

Long-Term Health Check-up Program Fosters New Community—Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture, Japan (DX, BX, CX)

Aomori Prefecture features the lowest life expectancy in Japan. Hirosaki University started an advanced health check-up program called QOL Kenshin in 2005 and has subsequently collected as much as 2,000 pieces of health related information from each of the 1,000 participants over 15 years. This big data has been used to prevent lifestyle related diseases among the participants.

The result was a new community founded under the shared goal of staying healthy and comprised of residents and stakeholders in and outside the region. With growing interest in health, potential has surfaced for a new health related industry based on innovative technology including big data as in the Aomori case.

Chiemgauer Regional Currency Transforms Community— Southern Germany (DX, CX)

In 2002, the teachers and students of a local high school in Bavaria, Germany, came up with a regional currency project that continues to evolve today. Originally, they wanted to gather funds to upgrade their school facilities by introducing a new form of regional currency. They later modified the scheme to make it more beneficial to all local residents by ensuring that the new currency would stay within the community.

The new currency, Chiemgauer, is free to exchange from Euros, but requires a 5% fee to exchange back into Euros. 3% of the fee is donated to the community via NPOs, and 2% is used to cover operational costs. Furthermore, the regional currency is designed to decrease in value after a certain period of time, a mechanism that has successfully encouraged more spending in the region.

Originally paper money, Chiemgauer has been digitalized and is now available even on mobile devices thus making it easier to use the currency. Having taken hold in the local community, the Chiemgauer scheme has revitalized the region and strengthened relationships among residents. The scheme has also helped expedite climate change response in the region. If spread to other regions, the Chiemgauer model has the potential to change perceptions of prosperity on a large scale.
Diagram 2: Crafting the Mutual Sphere
Diagram 2: Crafting the Mutual Sphere

4. Creating a Desirable Future World

Advanced technologies are poised to make 3X a reality and enhance the autonomy of individuals, but these technologies also include the risk of further isolating and dividing people. If progress heads in an unfavorable direction, lifestyles could become an ethical issue. The future may not be as bright as hoped if prosperity remains limited to the quantitative growth definition of the 20th century and fails to shift to qualitative maturity.

We need to create the environment where both individuals and organizations are more perceptive and adaptable to a variety of changes. Visions must be shared among individuals, companies, organizations, and governments on how to achieve a desirable future, rethink values, and take action accordingly.

* UN forecasts population to reach 10.4 billion by 2070

Figures based on ecological footprint, an estimate of the total area of ecological services, such as cultivated land and forests, required to absorb the CO2 released through human activity

Term appears in introduction of 1948 WHO constitution and offers a broad definition for health as, "… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The term has grown to encompass happiness and quality of life

§ More detail can be found in the May 2020 edition of the MRI Monthly Review and the MRI original publication Phronesis, both in Japanese. Find and English overview of Phronesis at the following: https://www.mri.co.jp/en/50th/columns/topics/no01/

Aomori Prefecture had the lowest life expectancy for both men and women in the 2015 rendition of a Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare study run every five years on the average life expectancy of each prefecture