Japan


Japan's GPIF mulls use of AI in pension asset management

The Japan Times

The Government Pension Investment Fund is considering using artificial intelligence technology to manage its assets, sources have said. The GPIF, which manages public pension assets, believes the introduction of AI will enable much quicker and more elaborate market analysis than a human can provide, at a low cost, the sources said Thursday. The organization aims to introduce the technology on a trial basis as early as fiscal 2018, which starts in April next year, the sources said. Use of AI is spreading globally in the asset management industry. In the United States, firms including BlackRock Inc. and Goldman Sachs are already using AI in asset management.


Honda's connected cars will communicate over 5G

Engadget

When it's not busy making billion-dollar acquisitions to expand its robotics line-up, Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank is pursuing its other hobby: smart cars. Central to this endeavour is its partner, and fellow Japan native, Honda. Last year, the two announced plans to make cars emotive using cloud-based tech based on SoftBank's Pepper robot (think Knight Rider's KITT). The fruits of that colloboration are beginning to emerge, in the guise of the auto-maker's AI-assisted NeuV and Sports EV concepts. With the clock ticking down to Honda's 2025 deadline for driverless cars, the duo are moving on to the next phase in their connected cars project, which is all about 5G.


An AI chatbot just became a resident of Japan

#artificialintelligence

A chatbot programmed to be a seven-year-old boy has become the first AI bot to be granted official residence in Tokyo, Japan. Shibuya Mirai is the latest resident of Shibuya, a Tokyo ward with a population of around 224,000 people, despite only existing as a chatbot on the Line messaging app. The ward's decision to make Mirai--meaning'future' in Japanese--an official resident is part of a project aimed at making the local government more familiar and accessible to locals. The chatty seven-year-old is designed to listen to the opinions of Shibuya residents. "His hobbies are taking pictures and observing people," Shibuya Ward said in a statement seen by the AFP news agency.


Horrifying video shows a drone dispensing candy crash into crowd below

Mashable

A drone dispensing candy to a crowd in Ogaki, Japan crashed into a crowd of people at the Ogaki Robot Festival on Saturday. Japan Today reports that the drone was dishing out candy to a crowd gathered in a park when abruptly, the drone tilted sideways and fell into the people. Six people, ranging in age from 5 to 48, suffered minor injuries in the crash. A clip of the crash uploaded to Twitter shows the drone tilt sideways, its motors still roaring as it dives in the crowd. People can be heard screaming, and the drone appears to make a direct hit to a man with a child sitting on his shoulder.


Family's pain 'has never gone away.' Japanese abducted by North Korea in spotlight as Trump visits Japan

Los Angeles Times

When tales of young couples being snatched off beaches by North Korean agents first began to circulate around Japan in the late 1970s, they were dismissed by most Japanese as conspiracy theory paranoia. But as years went by, evidence mounted that North Korea had in fact engaged in a systematic program of abductions to obtain instructors in Japanese language and culture for its spies. North Korea long denied such claims, but in 2002, when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made his historic visit to Pyongyang, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il took Japan by surprise by admitting 13 Japanese had been abducted. Kim apologized, blaming rogue special forces "on a reckless quest for glory." Among the surprised was the family of Megumi Yokota, a schoolgirl snatched while walking home from a badminton lesson in Niigata, on the Sea of Japan coast, in November 1977.


Sony brings its AI-infused robotic dog Aibo back from the dead

The Guardian

Pets are great, but in our modern hectic lives it's increasingly difficult to give them the love and attention they deserve without paying someone else to do it. But what if you never needed to feed them, walk them or worry about them tearing up the house? Maybe that's why Sony is bringing its robotic dog Aibo back from the dead. The Japanese electronics firm, once a pioneer in home robotics, announced that after more than a decade its robot canine pal will return to shelves with artificial intelligence-infused upgrades. Aibo is an ivory-white, puppy-sized, 30 centimetre plastic-covered hound with flapping black ears and a wagging tail.


Hello Aibo, goodbye Alexa: Sony turns robot dog into AI assistant

Mashable

That robotic dog you wanted as a kid is back. And sadly, it's just as expensive. Sony had announced that after more than a decade since retiring its robot dog product, the Aibo will be coming back for real. SEE ALSO: Sony's bringing back an old favorite to get back into AI The new Aibo has also learnt some new tricks. Its AI capability will allow it to learn and recognise people's faces, and remember and avoid obstacles in a room.


Sony Is Bringing Back Its Robot Dog a Decade After Retiring It

#artificialintelligence

Japan's Sony Corp said on Wednesday it has brought back AIBO more than a decade since it last made the robotic dog, as the electronics and entertainment firm seeks to rebuild its reputation for innovation after years of restructuring. The announcement comes a day after Sony confirmed its renaissance by forecasting its highest-ever profit this financial year, sending its shares surging to a nine-year high. And it confirms previous reports speculating that Sony would revive the "pet project." AIBO is billed as a pet that behaves like a real dog using artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and interact with its owner and surroundings. The upgrade sees AIBO equipped with new sensing and movement technologies as well as far more advanced AI backed by cloud computing to develop the dog's personality.


Aibo returns in Japan as a cloud-connected recording companion robot

ZDNet

As foreshadowed in October, a new version of the Aibo robot dog is available for pre-ordering in Japan, with units to begin shipping on January 11. Set to cost 198,000 yen, approximately $1,740 at the time of writing, owners will also need to purchase a three-year basic subscription for the one-time price of 90,000 yen, or 2,980 yen per month. Further to this, support packages are available for three years at 54,000 yen, or one year for 20,000 yen. Paying for Aibo alongside an upfront payment for the subscription and support package could set owners back 342,000 yen, or $3,000. Sony claims the new Aibo is able to learn from its environment, is "naturally" curious, is able to recognise voices, and can respond to physical contact.


Sony's new Aibo pet robot goes on sale tonight in Japan

Engadget

After more than a decade away, Sony's Aibo pet robot is making a return. The original dog-like robot launched in 1999, while Sony says its followup is "capable of forming an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion." Its OLED eyes allow for "nuanced" expressions, while new actuators allow its body to move smoothly along 22 axes. Pre-orders for the new robot begin tonight via Sony's online store in Japan for 179,000 yen (about $1,739 US), with shipments scheduled to begin on January 11th. Of course, because this is 2017, not only is the new Aibo powered by AI (that learns and develops a unique personality over time) but it's also connected to the cloud.