Predicting the Future
The SINIC theory grew from the idea that, in order to manage a business by anticipating social needs, it is necessary to predict future society. Based on this theory, OMRON has been able to continually make social proposals marked by foresight. But what exactly is this SINIC theory that enables it to still serve as a compass for guiding OMRON's management more than 30 years since the theory was developed?
The SINIC theory is a future prediction method that OMRON founder Kazuma Tateisi developed and presented at the International Future Research Conference in 1970. Announced in the midst of Japan's rapid-paced economic growth, before PCs and the Internet even existed, this theory drew a highly accurate picture of society up to the middle of the 21st century, including the appearance of the Information Society.
SINIC stands for Seed-Innovation to Need-Impetus Cyclic Evolution. According to the SINIC theory, science, technology and society share a cyclical relationship, mutually impacting and influencing each other in two distinct ways. In one direction, scientific breakthroughs yield new technologies that help society to advance. In the other direction, social needs spur on technological development and expectations for new scientific advancement. Thus, both of these factors affect each other in a cyclical manner, propelling further social evolution.
From the Past to the Present
As lifestyles and values continue to change dramatically, what kind of future can we expect? Here, we will take a look at the past, the present, and the future as depicted by the SINIC theory.
According to the SINIC theory, the world established an Industrialized Society upon the foundation of a conventional Agricultural Society in the 14th century. The SINIC theory divides this Industrialized Society into five phases: first, there was a shift from a Handicraft Society to an Industrialization Society; then, 1870 saw the advent of a Mechanization Society; an Automation Society developed in the 20th century; and from the end of the 20th century until the dawn of the 21st century was an Information Society.
In particular, the 20th century was a time of rapid transition through three kinds of societies: the Mechanization Society, the Automation Society and the Information Society. According to the SINIC theory, the Optimization Society - the final phase of the Industrialized Society - began in 2005, following on from the Information Society, and this will subsequently shift to the Autonomous Society by 2025.
While the Industrialized Society generated material wealth, it also left behind many negative factors. These included increasing energy and resource depletion, growing industrial waste, food shortages, as well as problems related to human rights and ethics among many others. In the Optimization Society it is predicted that these negative effects will be redressed and people will shift from the values of the Industrialized Society, as typified by the pursuit of efficiency and productivity, to values in which psychological abundance is sought and the quality and true joy of life become increasingly important.
With its unique technologies, OMRON is well positioned to help the Optimization Society create a complete balance and harmonious relationship between individuals and society, between humans and the environment, and between people and machines.
From the Present to the Future - The Optimization Society -
According to the SINIC theory, the present period is part of the Optimization Society. Let's take a close look at just what the Optimization Society is and what kind of values are considered important in this society.
The most remarkable trait of the Optimization Society will be a shift away from material affluence, and toward psychological gratification and improved lifestyles, with people moving to base their lifestyles on a new, spiritual culture.
As the pursuit of Industrialized Society values such as efficiency and productivity diminish, new values of the quality and true joy of life will become increasingly important. These two values will inevitably result in conflicts between social systems and paradigms which will, in turn, lead to the creation of new social systems and paradigms over the 20-year span of the Optimization Society.
If the viewpoint that 'all phenomena found in society are systems' is taken, then we can expect that existing social mechanisms will be optimized first in patches, then gradually increase and spread to cover all of society. At the same time, global-scale mechanisms will be created and initiated. These mechanisms will help realize people's fundamental human desires toward finding abundant lives and self-fulfillment, eventually creating a shift to the Autonomous Society.
While the Industrialized Society generated material wealth, it also left behind many negative factors. These included increasing energy and resource depletion, growing industrial waste, food shortages, as well as problems related to human rights and ethics among many others. In the Optimization Society, we are witnessing a growing social demand to remedy these negative effects with software and services positioned as the major industry in the pursuit of spiritual abundance.
People and Technology in the Optimization Society
Until now, technologies have been required to allow machines to handle tasks. In the Optimization Society, machines will come closer to people, with the ability to adapt to their needs. By providing the "best matching of machines to people," OMRON will strive to continue its role as a pioneer in contributing to society in the soon-to-be-realized Optimization Society.
In the Information Society, knowledge information could only be exchanged as numerical data in the form of ONs and OFFs or 1s and 0s. The Optimization Society will see further progress in technologies that support and extract knowledge and sensitivity, with the result that aspects such as natural language and human knowledge and sensitivity will be directly exchanged, expressed, and acted on. In other words, technologies that automate parts of our human intellect and sensations will form the foundation for future development.
In the Optimization Society, people and machines will find an ideal level of harmony. Instead of pursuing productivity and efficiency, people will then place more emphasis on finding new ways to live their lives and searching for self-fulfillment. When this happens, it is predicted that people will begin to place their priority on more fundamental desires, such as the desire to be healthy and live a long life, the desire for a comfortable life, the quest of lifelong learning, and the wish to enjoy leisure time.
In order to further advance the fields of safety/security, healthcare and environmental preservation, OMRON is also placing its priority on activities that bring technologies ever closer to people and fulfill these fundamental desires, while maintaining an optimal balance between individuals and society, between humans and the environment, and between people and machines.