The Japan Times


In breakthrough, Japanese researchers use AI to identify early stage stomach cancer with high accuracy

The Japan Times

Two Japanese national research institutes have succeeded in using artificial intelligence to identify early stage stomach cancer with a high accuracy rate. The breakthrough may help extend the lives of patients in Japan, where stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of death. According to the National Cancer Center, 45,531 people died of stomach cancer in 2016. According to Riken and the National Cancer Center, it took AI only 0.004 seconds to judge whether an endoscopic image showed early stage cancer or normal stomach tissue. AI correctly detected cancer in 80 percent of cancer images, while the accuracy rate was 95 percent for normal tissue.


In breakthrough, Japanese researchers use AI to identify early-stage stomach cancer with high accuracy

The Japan Times

Two Japanese national research institutes said Saturday they have succeeded in using artificial intelligence to identify early-stage stomach cancer with a high accuracy rate. The breakthrough may help extend the lives of more cancer patients in Japan, where stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of death. According to Riken and the National Cancer Center, it took AI only 0.004 seconds to judge whether an endoscopic image showed early-stage cancer or normal stomach tissue. AI correctly detected cancer in 80 percent of cancer images, while the accuracy rate was 95 percent for normal tissue. The accuracy rates were as high as those of veteran doctors, the institutes said, adding that they will aim to put AI into practical use as a device to support doctors in making diagnoses.


Sony starts taking advance orders for new version of Aibo robot dog

The Japan Times

Sony Corp. started accepting advance orders Thursday in Japan for its new artificial intelligence-equipped Aibo robot dog, making it possible for every would-be buyer to own the electric pet amid greater-than-expected demand. In January when Sony released an upgraded version of AIBO -- its predecessor debuted in 1999 and was discontinued in 2006 -- sales of the new model were limited by production capacity and consumers could only obtain one on a first-come-first-served basis or by lottery. Shortly after a Sony store opened Thursday in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district, there were about 10 people lined up for the canine robot. "I feel unsure if I can take care of a real dog any more at this age," explained Yoichi Iijima, 70, on why he decided to buy one. "I'm looking forward to having a new companion to talk with."


Yemen's Houthis say they attacked Aramco refinery in Riyadh with drone but operator lays fire to 'operational incident'

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen said it had attacked a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh on Wednesday using a drone, but the oil company said a limited fire at the plant was due to "an operational incident. "Our drone air forces have targeted the refinery of ARAMCO company in Riyadh," read a tweet on the account of the Houthi-run television channel al-Masirah. "The operation by the drone air force is a strong start in a new stage of deterring the aggression," it quoted a Houthi military spokesman as saying in a tweet. Saudi officials were not immediately available for comment. Just before al-Masirah's tweet, Aramco announced that its fire control teams and the Saudi civil defenses had contained a minor fire that erupted in the early evening in a storage containers at its refinery in Riyadh.


Autonomous taxi tests to start in Tokyo with view to launch service in 2020

The Japan Times

Tests on public roads of an autonomous taxi carrying passengers will be held in central Tokyo for nearly two weeks from late August with the aim of launching the service in 2020, a tech firm and a major taxi company said Wednesday. ZMP Inc., a Tokyo-based developer of autonomous driving technology, and Hinomaru Kotsu Co. will conduct the tests from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8 over a route of some 5.3 km between commercial facilities in Tokyo's Otemachi and Roppongi districts, they said. The initiative comes as competition intensifies in the development of autonomous vehicles. General Motors Co. and Waymo, a spinoff of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc., have started tests on public roads, while Nissan Motor Co. and DeNA Co. conducted tests on a ride-hailing service in Yokohama in March. The Japanese government has allowed the testing of automated driving systems on public roads since 2017 in the hope of accelerating commercialization of the technology ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and also to address the shortage of drivers in a society with an aging demographic profile.


Facebook on robotics hiring blitz as it looks to the future of AI

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook announced several new hires of top academics in the field of artificial intelligence Tuesday, among them a roboticist known for her work at Disney making animated figures move in more human-like ways. The hires raise a big question -- why is Facebook interested in robots, anyway? It's not as though the social media giant is suddenly interested in developing mechanical friends, although it does use robotic arms in some of its data centers. The answer is even more central to the problem of how AI systems work today. Today, most successful AI systems have to be exposed to millions of data points labeled by humans -- like, say, photos of cats -- before they can learn to recognize patterns that people take for granted.


Japan's latest big thing: 'virtual YouTubers'

The Japan Times

YouTube erected a platform where commoners could climb the ladder to stardom. Now, the video-sharing giant is seeing another wave of new talent diving into a glittering entertainment scene. These entertainers are called "virtual YouTubers," or "VTubers," and are represented by digital avatars that look like anime characters. Almost exclusively a Japanese phenomenon, at least so far, these virtual talents have proliferated rapidly over the past several months and people in the industry, together with observers, predict the movement will only accelerate. Following are some questions and answers about virtual YouTubers.


Japan plans to launch advanced placement system in schools

The Japan Times

The education ministry plans to establish a system that allows students at some 50 high schools to take university courses and earn credits, with the aim of developing human resources in view of expected advances in artificial intelligence technologies. Advanced differential equation, data mining and other subjects in the mathematics and science fields will be covered by the planned version of the advanced placement system, which is used in the United States and other countries, according to ministry officials. The ministry is set to choose at least one high school from each of Japan's 47 prefectures over the next decade or so for the program. The planned initiative was included in a report compiled by a ministry panel discussing education policies for coming generations. Through the system, the ministry hopes to allow highly motivated high school students with excellent academic performances to receive even higher levels of education after they advance to university.


Microsoft urges government to take lead in managing facial recognition technology

The Japan Times

SEATTLE – Microsoft, which has come under fire for a U.S. government contract that was said to involve facial recognition software, said it will more carefully consider contracts in this area and urged lawmakers to regulate the use of such artificial intelligence to prevent abuse. The company, one of the key makers of software capable of recognizing individual faces, said it will take steps to make those systems less prone to bias, develop new public principles to govern the technology and move more deliberately to sell its software and expertise in the area. While Microsoft noted that the tech industry bears responsibility for its products, the company argued that government action is also needed. "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said Friday in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so.


Japan's industry ministry launches initiative to support AI projects between startups and big firms

The Japan Times

The industry ministry has launched an initiative to support joint artificial intelligence projects between startups and large firms. Twenty projects have already been selected for financial assistance of up to ¥200 million. The ministry hopes that the support will lead to the creation of innovative business models that can be used worldwide. It chose the 20 projects from about 70 applications. The projects include collaboration between data analysis startup Grid Inc. and major plant engineering firm Chiyoda Corp. Grid and Chiyoda plan to jointly develop a system to enhance the operating efficiency of liquefied natural gas plants using deep learning, a technology in which AI obtains a vast amount of data and improves its performance on its own.