Japan


Japan's new supercomputer Fugaku to begin operations around 2021

The Japan Times

Japan's new supercomputer Fugaku is set to begin operations around 2021 with the country aiming to regain the title of building the world's fastest computer, replacing its current supercomputer K, government-backed research institute Riken said Thursday. The Fugaku, a nickname for Mount Fuji, aims to be about 40 to 120 times faster than the K, the first supercomputer in the world to achieve a speed of over 10 quadrillion computations per second. "A supercomputer is essential to solving social challenges such as drug development and disaster prevention," Riken President Hiroshi Matsumoto said. The new supercomputer, developed at a cost of about ¥110 billion, will be utilized in a wide range of research by various companies and universities including forecasting heavy rains. The institute received nearly 5,100 entries for potential names between February and April from the public, with only two entries for Fugaku.


AI robot duo to guide visitors during test trial at Tokyo Station

The Japan Times

East Japan Railway Co. on Wednesday showed the media a test trial of two artificial intelligence robots designed to guide passengers at Tokyo Station. The robots -- Pepper of SoftBank Robotics Corp. and SEMMI of German railway company Deutsche Bahn AG -- were deployed at an information desk in a shopping and dining center called Gransta on the basement floor of the station. Visitors can ask for directions to stores and restaurants in the facility in languages including Japanese, English and Chinese, JR East said. The trial, which began Monday and will last through May 31, comes as part of a technological exchange between JR East and Deutsche Bahn that began in 1992. They will look at the machines' capabilities and visitors' reactions to their appearance.


Time for a change? Japan wants international media to put family names first

The Japan Times

Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to ask overseas media outlets to write the names of Japanese people with the family name first, as is customary in the Japanese language. If realized, the new policy would mark a major shift in the country's long-running practice for handling Japanese names in foreign languages -- which began in the 19th to early 20th centuries amid the growing influence of Western culture. At a news conference Tuesday, Kono said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's name should be written as "Abe Shinzo," in line with other Asian leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Now is the right time to make the change, given that the Reiwa Era has just begun and several major events -- including next month's Group of 20 summit and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- are approaching, Kono said. "I plan to ask international media organizations to do this. Domestic media outlets that have English services should consider it, too," he said, citing a report released in 2000 by the education ministry's National Language Council that said it was desirable to write Japanese names with the family name first in all instances.


MLT Workshop: Edge AI @Arm

#artificialintelligence

We are excited to kick off our first Embedded ML workshop - a combination of presentation and ideathon. Firstly, we will talk about the promise of light-weight deep neural networks for energy-efficient and low-cost IoT applications. We discuss some examples of accelerated and low-memory version of deep learning models for real-time use, predictive maintenance, time-series analysis, and demand forecast. We focus on AI methods for turning IoT data into insights and actions. After the introductory talk about Edge AI we will build teams of 3-5 people and have 1.5 hours to come up with project ideas for embedded ML scenarios that include use case, feasibility assessment, workflow, allocation of resources (human, time, computation, ...).


SoftBank Group looking to ride AI unicorns into the future ZDNet

#artificialintelligence

SoftBank Group saw its operating income increase by 81% over the year to March 31, 2019, driven by its SoftBank Vision and Delta Funds more than tripling their operating income. Here's how it's related to artificial intelligence, how it works and why it matters. Overall, the SoftBank conglomerate took in ¥9.6 trillion in sales, an increase of 5%, from which it made ¥2.35 trillion in earnings before interest and taxes, up 81%, and ¥1.4 trillion of net income. Broken down, both of its telcos in the form of Sprint and SoftBank Corporation contributed around ¥3.7 trillion in sales, with Yahoo Japan making ¥947 billion in sales, and others making up the remaining ¥1.2 trillion. For operating income, the SoftBank Vision Fund hit ¥1.26 trillion, SoftBank made ¥725 billion, Sprint contributed ¥280 billion, and Yahoo Japan made ¥135 billion.


Robots from 'Gundam' series to greet 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic athletes from space

The Japan Times

Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games announced plans Wednesday to launch robots from the "Mobile Suit Gundam" anime series into space aboard a satellite that will broadcast messages of support to athletes. In the project, conducted in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the University of Tokyo, two 10-centimeter models depicting Gundam and Char's Zaku robots from the animation series will be sent into orbit on a 30-cm long, 10-cm wide microsatellite. The "G Satellite," with an electronic bulletin board for displaying messages, will be sent to the International Space Station aboard a supply ship next March and later launched from the ISS. After the satellite enters the Earth's orbit, it will deploy the robots and the bulletin board. The organizers of the project will then share images taken with an onboard camera, including congratulatory messages in multiple languages, with athletes through social media and other outlets.


'Deepfake' AI that can replicate full bodies in motion creates footage of crowds of imaginary people

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The fashion industry is forever being accused of using models that have unrealistic standards of beauty -- but in the future, the models themselves could be unreal, too. All of the realistic-looking people in the video below are actually fakes -- dreamed up by a pair of AI developed by researchers from Kyoto University in Japan. The AI were first trained on real-life pictures of humans models. From this, one AI was tasked with repeatedly trying to dream up images of replica models that its counterpart could not distinguish form the real thing. This model-creating technology could one day be used to create fake models for use in advertisements and by the clothing and fashion industries.


Drone flights reported again near Imperial Palace in Tokyo in wake of ascension

The Japan Times

Police are investigating witness reports of a drone being flown Monday evening near the Imperial Palace and other downtown Tokyo areas, after a number of similar sightings were noted last week following the ascension of Emperor Naruhito. The flying of drones is banned in central Tokyo. Riot police observed what they thought was a drone flying over the Kitanomaru Garden located just north of the palace at around 7:30 p.m. Monday, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Further reports were made later saying a drone had been spotted flying over Tokyo's Nagatacho district, where the country's Diet and the Prime Minister's Office are located, as well as in the Yotsuya and Roppongi areas of the city, according to the police. The police searched the areas but failed to track down the pilot.


Trains, planes and automobiles to celebrate Golden Week

The Japan Times

If you're looking for some mundane distractions to get you through the holiday period, Shukan Taishu (May 6-13) has got just the thing. Its "Reiwa Commemorative Edition" introduces unusual rides. Not to be outdone, a park in Tochigi has camels for the same purpose, as does another in Chiba offering elephant rides. At Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama, visitors from age 10 (who can prove they can swim for a distance of 25 meters) may emulate the "boy on a dolphin" theme and ride atop a friendly beluga whale. Two-wheeled Segway personal transporters are available for inexpensive rental at Showa Memorial Park in the city of Tachikawa.


In Japan, busy singles are turning to apps to find love

The Japan Times

In Japan's time-scarce, results-oriented society, people no longer feel they can find a life partner through traditional dating methods, and are instead turning to internet matchmaking options to better their chances of meeting a compatible companion. Rather than visiting a dating agency, attending matchmaking parties or actually finding a partner the old-fashioned way through "a chance encounter," people are peering into their screens in hopes that artificial intelligence will help them find a match made in heaven. The companies are not focused on delivering a solely digital date, however, as some also host events where prospective partners can meet in person to see if the profile picture meets reality. Makoto Yamada, 30, who works in the western Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa, married Sayaka, 33, a university research fellow, in June last year after meeting through the Pairs online matching service run by Tokyo-based Eureka Inc. Both learned of the matchmaking service through social media ads and signed up without giving it a second thought.