SoftBank CEO Sees Massive Data, AI as Key to ‘Information Revolution’

Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group Corp., says artificial intelligence combined with data gathered by billions of sensors will bring on an "information revolution," that will benefit people more than the 19th Century Industrial Revolution.

Son [pictured above], Japan's richest person, told Softbank customers and partners gathered at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday that he believes massive data will help treat cancer, deliver accident-free driving and grow safer food.

SoftBank has bought leading British semiconductor company ARM, and its acquisition of U.S. robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics, announced last month, is undergoing regulatory approval. Its investments have included Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.

SoftBank, the first carrier to offer the Apple iPhone in Japan, set up a private fund last year for global investments in the technology sector, called the Vision Fund, with the potential to grow to as much as $100 billion. He has won praise from President Donald Trump for promising to invest $50 billion in U.S. startups and create 50,000 jobs.

This week Softbank announced it will invest in Encored, a U.S. company specializing in IoT technology in the energy sector.

During a nearly three hour presentation, Son, introduced some of the ventures he is partnering, including OneWeb, whose founder and chairman Greg Wyler wants to offer affordable internet access for everyone using satellites instead of underground cables.

Son also brought on stage Spot, a four-legged robot that can climb steps and dance. Other robots will be able to carry heavy loads, said Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics chief executive.

"Marc, we are going to change the world together," Son said on stage.

SoftBank already offers one of the most sophisticated companion robots on the market, the chatty, childlike Pepper. Son seemed a bit protective of his flagship robot, saying those who have criticized it as "not too smart" haven't seen what he has...

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