AI Spring in Japan
As AI technology is getting easier to implement or it can be productize easily now, more and more AI based application are coming into Market globally. Japan is in the prime position to take the advantage of AI technology than any other nation. Based on this article, there are 2 keys reasons why AI will be more successful in Japan than any other nation.
The first reason for AI growth is automation enabled system, society and living style. Japan may be the best-placed country to cope with the advance of automation — it’s likely to cause less unemployment than elsewhere, given the shortage of workers and lifetime employment practices. Unemployment has fallen to 2.8 per cent and a record-high 97.6 per cent of new university graduates found jobs by the start of the business year in April.
The second reason for AI growth and success is that while requirement of workers is growing the working population is shrinking in Japan which can be complemented by AI tools, applications and services. Based on the article, a consistently low birth rate has shrunk the working-age population by around 10 million since its mid-1990s peak, with another 20 million set to disappear from workplaces in the coming decades. The situation is becoming critical, with nearly 1.5 vacancies for every jobseeker and chronic shortages in sectors such as nursing care, manufacturing, construction and parcel delivery.
My recent two weeks in Japan:
Macnica invited me to make a visit to Japan and I visited Tokyo from 4th Feb to 18th Feb. During this visit Macnica facilitated my meeting with leadership teams from finance, healthcare , retail, Electricity, Web Scale Commerce, Food Processing, and Manufacture industry. After meeting with everyone the message I received that AI is very important for every organization and they are ready to start working on AI initiatives in their organization. This really excites me the most and I do believe that the time has come for Japan to start taking advantage of Global AI research and product development to achieve bigger success.
Current State of AI in Japan:
AI in Japan will bring a new way to drive automation which is already the back bone of living style. AI supported automation in Japan will create a large opportunities into IoT/IIoT, Smart City Initiatives, Smart Power and Green Resources, healthcare, retail & Robotics industry.
Based on instructions by Prime Minister Abe in “Public-Private Dialogue towards Investment for the Future” in April 2016, the Japanese government established “Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy Council”. In March 2017, the Council formulated “Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy,” including “Industrialization Roadmap”. The strategy has 3 different implementation phases as explained below:
As you can see above, by 2020 when phase 1 will be completed, AI/ML will be running into specific industries as an AI application. In some cases AI will be providing additional value to existing running application or infrastructure.
The philosophy to create AI is described as below:
- Achieve a human-centered society
- Share the Guidelines as non-binding soft law and their best practices among stakeholders internationally
- Ensure a balance between benefits & risks of AI networks
- Ensure technological neutrality, avoid excessive burden on developers
- Review constantly and revise as necessary.
Approach to achieve AI vision:
The Japanese government is suggesting technical organizations to use the following approach to achieve the AI vision in Japan:
- R&D investment
- Fostering Human Resources
- Improvement of Environment for Data and Tools
- Support for startups
Some of the projects sponsored or backed by Japanese government are as below:
- VoiceTra Mobile app for multiple language translation (Future plans are to deploy this app on various embedded devices and point of services to assist 2020 Olympic visitors)
- WisdomX: The world’s top-level natural language processing AI system with one of the world’s largest knowledge base constructed from a huge amount of character data on the Internet (equivalent to more than four billion web pages or 22 billion sheets of manuscript paper).
- DISAANA & D-SUMM: System to understand large scale disasters and provide more details
- Modeling and decoding brain activity
- Brain/Mind Reading
- Decoding imagined contents from brain activity
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) is leading the efforts to push AI strategy and related activities in Japan. You can review the strategy and related activities in Japan here. If you are interested to know more, please read Draft AI R&D GUIDELINESfor International Discussions.
AI based software and services companies and startups:
After the Japanese government promotion and global race in AI, Japanese tech industry also adopted AI significantly. In last few years several previously successful companies transformed into big Data and AI/ML consulting companies. Besides these several new AI based startup are created. Here is a list of few organization (not in any specific order) who are providing AI products and services to various Japanese customers:
- Preferred Network
- PKSHA Technology
- Albert Inc.
- MDR Co.
- Future Standard
- UEI Corporation
- Cross Compass (xcompass)
Besides above AWS, Google, and Microsoft are flexing their muscle by bringing their technology dominance into Japan and trying to get their share of market. This also helps AI industry to flourish and grow.
Finally it is AI spring in Japan:
In summary the future of AI in Japan is great for anyone who would like to be part of AI spring and use AI to assist Japanese business and society. I am super excited to know that anyone who will be part of this AI spring in Japan will be the lucky one.
Thanks for reading!!