The artificial intelligence, technology nexus . . .
Masayoshi Son, the tech-savvy billionaire and CEO of Softbank Group, one of Japan’s largest multinational conglomerates, has announced Softbank will raise US$108 billion for a new investment fund focused on technologies such as artificial intelligence. Vision Fund 2, as the new initiative is called, is being supported by Apple, FoxConn Technology Group, Microsoft, and a number of Japanese banks. Softbank companies focus on a range of sectors including mobile, tech, energy, and transportation.
Softbank’s ‘Vision’ continues . . .
Son’s Vision Fund 2 is the latest in a string of massive Softbank investment initiatives in energy, infrastructure, and technology. Following Japan’s 3.11 triple disaster (the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown), Son ramped up efforts to co-ordinate the production and sharing of energy across borders in the ‘Renewable Energy and Asia Super Grid’ initiatives, which aim to raise US$1 trillion by 2030. The first Vision Fund, launched in 2016 and now worth over US$100 billion, is currently the world’s largest technology investment fund. More recently, the U.S. Department of Justice approved a US$26-billion merger of Softbank-owned Sprint, and T-Mobile.
Japan’s under-the-radar leadership . . .
Even though much ink has been spilled in recent years covering China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, Japan continues to be the largest investor in infrastructure, innovation, and technology in many countries in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. The new Vision Fund 2 initiative will add further momentum to Japan’s active bilateral and multilateral engagement in artificial intelligence ethics and governance.