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The Star of This $70 Million Sci-Fi Film Is a Robot


Erica was created by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist at Osaka University in Japan, to be "the most beautiful woman in the world" -- he modeled her after images of Miss Universe pageant finalists -- and the most humanlike robot in existence. But she's more than just a pretty face: Though "b" is still in preproduction, when she makes her debut, producers believe it will be the first time a film has relied on a fully autonomous artificially intelligent actor. Yet despite her flawless features and easy smile, her pupils are clearly plastic. Her synthesized British voice has a slight metallic tone that sounds like she's speaking into a pipe. When she walks, the motion of her air compressor joints makes it look as though she's performing either a sped-up or slowed-down version of the robot.

Cannes winner Naomi Kawase named producer and senior advisor for Osaka Expo 2025

The Japan Times

Osaka – Film director Naomi Kawase, winner of several Cannes awards, and roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro were among 10 producers named Monday for the World Exposition set to be held in the city of Osaka in 2025, as the nation began preparing for the event. Kawase will also double as a senior adviser to the event. The expo, to be held for the second time in the city after one in 1970, will have no general producer in charge overall but instead will have 15 senior advisers. The 10 producers, selected by the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, are tasked with designing venues and planning pavilion exhibitions among other sites for the event, which is to be held on Yumeshima, a manmade island in Osaka Bay. Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University whose creations include his "robot twin," said at a news conference, "The expo 50 years ago had a great impact that can be felt even now. We would like to make the (next) expo one whose legacy will continue for another 50 years."

Japan restaurateur looks to AI-based management to stay ahead of curve in virus-battered industry

The Japan Times

Everything was going well for innovative entrepreneur and restaurateur Haruki Odajima -- or so it seemed until the coronavirus pandemic swirled across the country earlier this year. His artificial intelligence business, Ebilab, which helps restaurants predict how many customers they will get with more than 95 percent accuracy, was flourishing. That success was driven by his long-established restaurant Ebiya in Ise, Mie Prefecture. He had been using the Japanese restaurant to demonstrate how his system can more than triple productivity, grow profits fivefold and reduce food waste by more than 70 percent. With businesses asked to close and people told to stay in, the restaurant industry has chalked up unprecedented losses as bankruptcies sweep the country.

Data-crunching AI in Japan predicts one's chances of developing 20 diseases

The Japan Times

Health researchers have put artificial intelligence to work in crunching big data, allowing them to develop technology that can predict the future onset of around 20 diseases so people can make preventative lifestyle changes. The model developed at Hirosaki University and Kyoto University calculates one's probability of developing a disease within three years based on data obtained from voluntary health checkups on about 20,000 people in Japan. If a patient agrees to disclose data on some 20 categories collected during checkups, the model can project the potential development of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and obesity, among other conditions. The team set up two groups of people for each disease -- those whose data suggested they could develop the ailment in the future and a control group -- and crunched their health data to predict whether would will actually develop the disease. "We made correct predictions on whether individuals will develop the diseases within three years with high accuracy," said Yasushi Okuno, professor at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Medicine.

Artificially intelligent humanoid robot 'Erica' nabs lead role in $70 million Hollywood sci-fi movie

Daily Mail - Science & tech

An artificially intelligent humanoid robot has nabbed the leading role in a $70 million (£56.4 million) upcoming Hollywood sci-fi movie, titled'b'. Erica, the eerily human-like android actress, will play the role of a genetically-modified superhuman who goes on the run with the scientists who created her. The electric leading lady is understood to have shot her first scenes for the movie in Japan last year -- with the rest of the film scheduled to be shot next year. An artificially intelligent humanoid robot has nabbed the leading role in a $70 million (£56.4 million) upcoming Hollywood sci-fi movie, titled ' b '. Erica -- who made her public debut back in 2015 -- is the brainchild of roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro of Japan's Osaka University, who calls his creation the world's'most beautiful and human-like android.'

Japan's smart cities: Technological dreams or 'Big Brother' nightmares?

The Japan Times

Osaka – Late last month, the Diet passed a revised bill paving the way for so-called "super cities" or "smart cities." Supporters tout them as high-tech marvels where artificial intelligence and big data are to be used to provide more efficient and cost-effective solutions to social problems, especially in areas faced with aging and declining populations and a reduced tax base. Opponents warn that data leaks could lead to privacy violations and even a surveillance state. What was the purpose of the recently passed bill? In order to realize the creation of smart cities in various parts of the country, any number of basic regulations involving multiple ministries needs to be changed. The May 27 revision to a national strategic special zone law included measures the government can now take to do that more quickly and under more specific guidelines.

RoboCup-97: The First Robot World Cup Soccer Games and Conferences

AI Magazine

RoboCup-97, The First Robot World Cup Soccer Games and Conferences, was held at the Fifteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. There were two leagues: (1) real robot and (2) simulation. Ten teams participated in the real-robot league and 29 teams in the simulation league. Over 150 researchers attended the technical workshop. The world champions are CMUNITED (Carnegie Mellon University) for the small-size league, DREAMTEAM (University of Southern California) and TRACKIES (Osaka University, Japan) for the middle-size league, and AT-HUMBOLDT (Humboldt University) for the simulation league.

A $1 Million Virtual Tennis Tournament With Venus, Serena, McEnroe, and…Mario?!

Mother Jones

Welcome to Recharge, a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. See more editions and sign up here. Like everyone else in the world, Venus and Serena Williams can't play tennis right now to thousands of stadium fans. But they can play Tennis to millions of them. The superstar sisters lit up this weekend's Mario Tennis tournament for coronavirus relief in doubles showdowns with fellow pros Maria Sharapova, Naomi Osaka, and Kei Nishikori, along with Seal, Steve Aoki, and other entertainers and fashion figures.

Nintendo suspends Switch game console shipments

The Japan Times

Kyoto – Japan's Nintendo Co. has suspended domestic shipments of its popular Nintendo Switch video game console due to a production delay caused by the coronavirus outbreak, company officials said Wednesday. Nintendo has yet to decide when to resume shipments. The company will continue Nintendo Switch shipments for customers who had placed orders and European and U.S. markets, where sufficient inventories are available. It has also halted domestic shipments of the Switch Lite portable game machine. Nintendo outsources production of the game consoles to plants in China and Vietnam.

Genius triumphs: Japanese mathematician's solution to number theory riddle validated

The Japan Times

KYOTO – A proof by mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki of a major conundrum in number theory that went unresolved for over 30 years has finally been validated, Kyoto University said Friday following a controversy over his method, which was often labeled too novel or complicated to understand. Accepted for publication by the university's Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences was Mochizuki's 600-page proof of the abc conjecture, which provides immediate proofs for many other famous mathematical problems, including Fermat's last theorem, which took almost 350 years to be demonstrated. The abc conjecture, proposed by European mathematicians in 1985, is an equation of three integers a, b, and c composed of different prime numbers, where a b c, and describing the relationship between the product of the prime numbers and c. "There are a number of new notions and it was hard to understand them," Masaki Kashiwara, head of the team that examined the professor's theory, said at a news conference. He proved the abc conjecture with a "totally new, innovative theory," said fellow professor Akio Tamagawa. "His achievement creates a huge impact in the field of number theory."