EU and Japan join forces for smart manufacturing
EU and Japan join forces for advancing collaboration on AI-Driven Innovation in Manufacturing
Digitalization is a massive opportunity for the economy and society as it can lead to new business models, the rise of new competitors, and better products but certainly it introduces risks.  The global race for supremacy in AI does not only bring opportunities for economical and societal prosperity, but also potential risks and open questions. 
There is a strong global competition to implement AI among the US and China, where from a global point of view, they are leading and have the highest rate of investment. However, it is not a mere question of winning or losing the AI race, but to utilize AI in an ethical, human-centric, secure, transparent, privacy conscious and socially driven way. It is not only important to advance and progress in AI, but to also develop and promote sustainable approaches in technology. EU and Japan understand this and share the mentioned common values and aims. For this very reason, a cooperation between EU and Japan represents a natural and logical progression in the mutual development and deployment of AI. This approach will make it possible to create societies which will be prepared, understand and benefit from such technology.
The EU-Japan.AI Project (Advancing Collaboration and Exchange of Knowledge Between the EU and Japan for AI-Driven Innovation in Manufacturing) is a sixteen-month coordination and support action project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The main aim is to establish and stimulate a long-term cooperation between EU and Japan in areas relevant for AI-driven innovation in manufacturing and digital industry, by implementing a platform-based approach to connect all the relevant stakeholders and by promoting them using modern, online-driven awareness approaches. This will make it possible to establish a dynamic and expanding network with a higher global impact. Such a vibrant online community will support international research excellence and increase the public perception and acceptance of AI. Related to this, the cooperation between the involved parties will be strengthened and will be transformed into a long-lasting partnership, enabled by the long-term strategy.
In order to support the cooperation between EU and Japan, the EU-Japan.AI project aims to achieve the following main objectives:
- INVOLVE the manufacturing sector and relevant stakeholder groups at European and Japanese level through an innovative online-offline approach.
- ANALYSE the existing AI application for manufacturing ecosystems including former projects, ethical, social and legal issues, and pan-European and Japanese initiatives.
- DEVELOP tools, content, showcase materials, and elaborate a multidimensional matchmaking framework based on a long-term strategic cooperation plan.
- PROVIDE a modern, open, web-based platform consisting of content-rich awareness channels to generate high visibility and findability.
- BOOST the awareness on the project outcomes and especially of the provided online platform which will promote the cooperation effect between EU and Japan.
AI usage in manufacturing
Enabled by AI and the latest IT technologies such as cloud computing, big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile Internet/5G, numerous opportunities for intelligent manufacturing lie ahead. For example, new opportunities in intelligent manufacturing may include:
- remote real-time monitoring and control with little delay
- defect-free machining by means of opportunistic process planning and scheduling
- cost-effective and secure predictive maintenance of assets
- holistic planning and control of complex supply chains
Moreover, intelligent manufacturing in the near future will benefit from the aforementioned technologies in different temporal scales, as follows:
- In ten years, experience-driven manufacturing operations may become data-driven with prior knowledge support, mainly enabled by cloud computing and big data analytics.
- In 20 years, numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may gain a competitive edge in the global market by being powered by cloud manufacturing and made available to all. 
Ethical and societal challenges
The focus of the EU-Japan.AI project is on integrating state-of-the-art AI technologies in the manufacturing domain through the collaboration of the EU and Japan. On the road achieving this goal certain ethical principles and societal challenges need to be considered by all relevant stakeholders, both in the EU and Japan. To this end, the EU-Japan.AI project will align with the new rules proposed by the EU to utilize AI in an ethical and socially driven way.
These rules include the world’s first legal framework for AI and the Coordinated Plan on AI. Together, they outline a European approach to AI that focuses on putting people first. The rules will ensure AI develops in a way that guarantees safety and fundamental rights, while also encouraging uptake, investment and innovation. 
 Sørensen, B. T. (2018). Digitalisation: an Opportunity or a Risk?.
 Merz, F. (2019). Europe and the Global AI race.
 Wang, L. (2019). From intelligence science to intelligent manufacturing, Engineering, 5(4), 615-618.
 European Commission (2020). Shaping Europe’s digital future. Available at:
H2020, EU project, Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, Industry 4.0, cooperation, knowledge exchange