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Data is increasingly being viewed as a resource as vital as oil was in the 20th century, with the vast accumulation of information leading to new services across a variety of industries. As the analogy suggests, data is fueling innovation: Firms are studying consumer habits to develop new products, feeding patients’ data into artificial intelligence for the creation of new drugs and bringing self-driving vehicles closer to reality.

For Japan, it hopes to create what it calls “Society 5.0,” a supersmart society where the so-called internet of things, AI and big data generate innovation to help expand the economy and resolve social problems.

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