The Japanese Fifth Generation project

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The Fifth Generation project is regarded as the largest ever Japanese research project that aimed at introducing new computer systems by 1991. The project started as a way of ensuring that artificial intelligence is achieved and integrated within the technology that the IBM systems did not have. The project was defined with objectives and got the highest support from the government through the financing agencies; however, the project got the MITI Company to stop sponsoring large projects in Japan. The project didn’t succeed (Nielsen, 1988).

What were the Objectives of the 5th Generation Project?

The Fifth computer generation project was based on the ground of improving the computer system using a different technology. The aim of the supercomputer project was to develop a computer that was more significantly faster than the IBM mainframe. Thus, the objectives of the projects are outlined with the characterization that computer system developed did possess. The objective implementing the Fifth Computer project was to primary develops a fundamentally total different computer system. By the time, the IBM had adopted the technology of developing the computers that were based on the arithmetic processing. The fifth Generation comes in with the aim of developing a computer that is based on the technology of logic processing which is also associated with parallel processing (Fransman, 1995).

Subsequently, the Fifth Generation project defines the Fifth generation of computers that was outlined with the dependency on the artificial intelligence. This got the project defined with a common goal of developing computer system devices that opt to respond to the natural languages input. Upon processing through learning and self-organization, a response is delivered according to the definitions. The aim was to use the Quantum computation techniques and the molecular and nanotechnology methods which outlined the project having a concentrate on the power of the human intelligence. The objectives outlined the good characterization of the Fifth generation project. In this case, the aim was to have the computer to use the super large integrated chips. As outlined earlier, they are related to the artificial intelligence, in that case, the machines should stand to have the recognition of images and graphs. To solve highly rated complex problems that consist of the logical reasoning and decision making. To improve the processing speed and power by enabling the computer system to use more than one CPU was great feature and objective that was to improve on workability and have the advantage value over the IBM system. Another noted intention of the Fifth Generation project was to develop a computer system that works with natural language (Mishra, 2010).

How did the Japanese Government help with this project?

The Japanese government announced the fanfare of the fifth generation computer project which was rated as a multi-billion dollar project that was to get the Japan as the leading computer technology in comparison to American computer technology. To begin with, the Japanese government has been in the front supporting the R & D activities in the systems information processing for a longer period. The Japan Development Bank do grant loans to Japan Electronic Computer Corp (JECC) that controlled the importation of the computer systems and raw materials to the manufacturers. Previously, the government provided regulation on how to undertake activities to ensure that devices are purchased accordingly. The government provided free laboratories for research and development. They enhanced training of the engineers who participated in the project. Overall, they provided the financial support to the company through the generation of $100 million in different periods to meet the estimated $500 million project that had a life span of 10 years from 1981 to 1991 (Dutta, 1993).

Who did what in the project? I know that, for instance, that Fujitsum was the hardware designer.

The project was defined with thousands of developers that consisted of the management and administration group and the technical group. We can talk of the Kazuhiro Fuchi, the project director who was concerned with the decision making and overall management. The engineers and scientist did take part in the technology research.

What companies were involved and to what extent?

Japan Electronic Dictionary Research Institute

Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation

Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation

European Computer Research Centre

How did this project turn out?

The project was scheduled to take a ten year period which got the efforts of Japan trying to seize the leading in the computer technology being ruined with the fact that the project did not enable the Japan to meet its ambitious objectives of delivering technology that was suitable to the country’s computer industry. The project failed by nor meeting the anticipated commercial success whereby the highly parallel computer architecture got paralyzed in speed by the less specialized and specified hardware. However, the project extended to meeting some of the objectives and this provided some hope to the Japanese researchers.

There was the identification of some problems that are regarded as the key engineers to the failure of the project to meet the defined goals. The initially regarded issue was the difficulty and eventually the failure to choose the concurrent logic programming that was to act as the bridge between the parallel like computer architecture, and the logic to represent the knowledge and problem-solving language. The existing CPU performance was another challenge that acted as a barrier in the parallel computing. The computer industry did move at a different pace that the Fifth generation project technology took. This was challenging as the project took the wrong technological curve (Pollack, 1992).

The fifth generation project efforts of did not provide the breakthrough of making machines intelligent which was the highest expectation of the project. But the project provided some directions and understanding on how to get done. It provided a good way of developing prototype computers that did succeed in performing logic reasoning functions at high speeds only on the application of almost 1000 processors that worked in parallel. Subsequently, it can be observed and appreciated that the project enabled the development of the basic software that can be applied in controlling and programming computers. As much as the computer experts term the achievements being technically impressive, the success did not have any market values thus no return on investment. However, the identical benefit outlined from the project was the provision of training to hundreds and even thousand of engineers in the field of advanced computer science. The acquired skills were applied to the respective companies to see the impressive work delivery based on the knowledge impacted.

Why did this project create fear in the hearts of most countries in the world about computer science?

The United States IBM company was the controller of the successful computer technology generation by that time. The objectives of the fifth generation project incepted a lot of fear in the United States whereby, the worry was the Japan overtaking the American computer industry. The project expressed the essence of how the Japanese will become the leading controller of the computer industry as the technology was to develop double powerful systems that were faster and worked by the artificial intelligence. This fear of being overtaken got the combination of companies such as the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation, a consortium in Austin, Tex., which collaborated to have a single research to ensure that they don’t lose the superpower in the computer industry.

The basic outlined with the project provided the essence of how the Japan will take control of the entire world and the United States, and other nations will have no say in some issues especially the G7 world nations. On the other hand, the Defense Department launched a huge long-term program with the objective of developing intelligent systems, which included the tanks that stood to navigate on their own. This has extended to the debate on how to handle the tension in the United States on making the decision whether the US Government should provide support to the American companies so as to make sure that they highly and be determined to compete the Fifth Generation venture. This can be viewed as the mistake of the Japan’s highly regarded Ministry of International Trade and Industry that disclosed the predicted success and functions of the technologies and their impact in the future as far as computer industry is concerned.


Dutta, S. (1993). Knowledge processing and applied artificial intelligence. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Fransman, M. (1995). Japan’s computer and communications industry: The evolution of industrial giants and global competitiveness. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mishra, D. (2010). Fifth Generation Computers. Retrieved from

Nielsen, J. (1988). Fifth Generation 1988 trip report. Retrieved from

Pollack, A. (1992). ‘Fifth Generation’ Became Japan’s Lost Generation. Retrieved from

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