Japan's Fastest Supercomputer Adopts NGC, Enabling Easy Access to Deep Learning Frameworks


From discovering drugs, to locating black holes, to finding safer nuclear energy sources, high performance computing systems around the world have enabled breakthroughs across all scientific domains. Japan's fastest supercomputer, ABCI, powered by NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs, enables similar breakthroughs by taking advantage of AI. The system is the world's first large-scale, open AI infrastructure serving researchers, engineers and industrial users to advance their science. The software used to drive these advances is as critical as the servers the software runs on. However, installing an application on an HPC cluster is complex and time consuming.

Multilingual translation tools spread in Japan with new visa system

The Japan Times

The use of multilingual translation tools is expanding in Japan, where foreign workers are expected to increase in the wake of April's launch of new visa categories. A growing number of local governments, labor unions and other entities have decided to introduce translation tools, which can help foreigners when going through administrative procedures as they allow local officials and other officers to talk to such applicants in their mother languages. "Talking in the applicants' own languages makes it easier to convey our cooperative stance," said an official in Tokyo's Sumida Ward. The ward introduced VoiceBiz, an audio translation app developed by Toppan Printing Co. that covers 30 languages. The app, which can be downloaded onto smartphones and tablet computers, will be used in eight municipalities, including Osaka and Ayase in Kanagawa Prefecture, company officials said.

After spate of incidents, Japan increases punishments for pilots who drink and fly

The Japan Times

The Diet enacted a revised aviation law Thursday that increases punishments for pilots found to have flown under the influence of alcohol or drugs following a series of drinking-related incidents involving Japanese airlines. Under the legislation, which will take effect in stages within one year of its official announcement, the penalty for drinking and flying has been raised from a maximum one-year jail term or ¥300,000 fine to a sentence of up to three years or a ¥500,000 fine. Japanese airlines have already tightened drinking rules, introducing mandatory Breathalyzer tests and relieving pilots of their duties if even a very low level of alcohol is detected. Those flying private planes, however, are not subject to the same checks. The legislation also seeks to improve aviation safety ahead of the intended mid-2020 delivery of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Japan's first homegrown commercial passenger jet.

The Next Generation of Robots Will Be Powered By Artificial Intelligence: Eye on A.I.


Robots must be smarter if they're going to pack boxes in warehouses, scan inventory in stores, and even care for the elderly. The rise of machine learning in recent years is making that possible. Steady innovation has led to robots that can independently "learn" to navigate tight corridors and grasp delicate objects without crushing them. Some of the leading American and Japanese robotics companies and investors recently gathered in Menlo Park, Calif. to discuss artificial intelligence in robotics and its impact on business. But it may require some cooperation between the U.S. and an important overseas ally.

Reconstruction and robots: can Tokyo 2020 live up to 1964's Olympic legacy?


There is a simple riposte to anyone who doubts an Olympics can truly transform a city: Tokyo. When Japan's capital first won the right to host the Games, in 1959, it suffered from a desperate shortage of housing and functional infrastructure – and the lack of flush toilets meant most waste had to be vacuumed daily out of cesspits underneath buildings by "honey wagon" trucks. But within five years Japan's capital had undergone such a metamorphosis that visitors to the 1964 Olympics responded with stunned awe. "Out of the jungle of concrete mixers, mud and timber that has been Tokyo for years, the city has emerged, as from a chrysalis, to stand glitteringly ready for the Olympics," the Times' correspondent swooned, citing a long list of buildings and accomplishments "all blurring into a neon haze … that will convince the new arrival he has come upon a mirage." As Japan's capital enters a year in the spotlight, from the Rugby World up to the 2020 Olympics, Guardian Cities is spending a week reporting live from the largest megacity on Earth.

Bethesda at E3 2019: Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo enliven muted show

The Guardian

Those hoping for a glimpse of Elder Scrolls VI or the highly anticipated sci-fi adventure Starfield were left disappointed at Bethesda's E3 conference in Los Angeles on Sunday. But the publisher did make a couple of intriguing announcements, with new games from Dishonored creator Arkane Lyon and from the studio of Resident Evil legend Shinji Mikami. There were also new trailers for shooters Doom Eternal (out on 22 November) and Wolfenstein Youngblood, both of which look to be carrying on the explosively gory and adrenaline-fuelled legacies of their forebears. A massive update for beleaguered multiplayer role-playing game Fallout 76 was also announced, adding a battle royale mode called Nuclear Winter and human characters for players to meet. Elsewhere, the hack'n'slash adventure Elder Scrolls Blades, recently released on smartphones, is coming to Nintendo Switch, and there's to be a free-to-play smartphone return for Id Software's old platforming hero, Commander Keen, out in the summer.

Osaka Ishin no Kai candidate Hideki Nagafuji wins Sakai mayoral election

The Japan Times

Hideki Nagafuji, a 42-year-old former Osaka Prefectural Assembly member, defeated two other contenders. Voter turnout stood at 40.83 percent. The regional party's so-called Osaka metropolis plan calls for reorganizing the prefectural capital of Osaka into special wards. In April, the party won the Osaka prefectural and mayoral elections. Nagafuji collected 137,862 votes, against 123,771 votes garnered by Tomoaki Nomura, 45, a former Sakai Municipal Assembly member, and 14,110 votes by Takashi Tachibana, 51, a former assembly member for Katsushika Ward, Tokyo.

IMF warns of giant tech firms' dominance


Giant technology companies might cause significant disruption to the world's financial system, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned. Christine Lagarde said just a few firms with big data access and artificial intelligence could run the global payment and settlement arrangements. Her warning came as the G20 finance ministers met in Japan. The summit is also discussing the need to close tax loopholes for internet giants like Facebook and Google. One of the options being considered is to tax such companies where they make their profits - rather than where they base their headquarters.

Are We Ready for Intimacy with Robots?


Academically, he is using them to understand the mechanics of person-to-person interaction. But his true quest is to untangle the ineffable nature of connection itself. It is summer 2002, mid-morning in a university research lab on the edge of Osaka, Japan. Two girls--both dressed in pale yellow, with child-puffy cheeks, black shoulder-length hair, and bangs--stand opposite each other under fluorescent lights. More precisely: One is a girl, 5 years old; the other is her copy, her android replica.

IMF's Lagarde highlights potential disruptive nature of fintech


FUKUOKA: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned on Saturday that the increasing presence of technology giants using big data and artificial intelligence could cause a significant disruption to the world's financial system. The rapid development of financial technology (fintech) has increased access to cheap payment and settlement systems for low-income households in emerging countries where traditional banking networks are scarce. But it has raised concern about the increasing dominance of big technology firms in mobile payments, which could force global policymakers to rethink the way they regulate the banking system and ensure financial settlements are executed safely. "A significant disruption to the financial landscape is likely to come from the big tech firms, who will use their enormous customer bases and deep pockets to offer financial products based on big data and artificial intelligence," Lagarde told a symposium on financial technology held on the sidelines of the G20 finance leaders' meeting in Fukuoka, southern Japan. While such innovation may help modernize financial markets, they could make the financial system vulnerable such by putting payment and settlement systems under the control of a handful of technology giants, she added.