Friday, November 20, 2015

AGI in Japan, 2015

More than a year passed since I wrote the article 'AGI in Japan, 2014' and some of AGI-related activities in Japan, then grass-roots, have been institutionalized. The following is an update mostly in the chronological order.

November 2014: Dwango Co. LTD., a media company, launched its AI laboratory. Its current function is 'promotive' by being a communicative hub for AGI researchers.

April 2015: Chiba Institute of Technology inaugurated STAIR (Software Technology and Artificial Intelligence Research) Laboratory (HP in Japanese), headed by Akinori Yonezawa.

The annual convention of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI) hosted two-part sessions on AGI. Part I mainly discussed models of the hippocampus and Part II discussed mainly the social and ethical aspects of AI. The entire time table (in Japanese) can be accessed from here, where you may find other topics related to AGI.

July 2015: The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan (NEDO) announced a plan to create a center of excellence in AI (news release in Japanese). NEDO has a large funding base and at least one of AIRC's intelligent robot projects is funded by NEDO. (Ref. an English article from NEDO on robots)

August 2015: The Whole Brain Architecture Initiative (WBAI), an NPO explicitly aiming for the realization of AGI, was inaugurated. Its main objective is to foster a research community based on the approach where researchers build cognitive architecture with machine learning modules while mimicking the brain. It held the first hackathon in September and a workshop at BICA 2015 (Lyon) in November. The winners of the hackathon (students) were present at the BICA conference.

September 2015:
A project on the Symbol Emergence in Robotics was accepted by CREST, a funding program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) (ref. Job Info of the project in English). The project will hold a kickoff event in November. The community has been quite active aiming for human-level AI in robotics. Tadahiro Taniguchi, one of the major proponents of the approach, is currently visiting the Imperial College.

On September 29, WIRED Japan held its first Singularity Summit (Japanese site). Lav Varshney and Ben Goertzel were among the speakers. Another speaker, Takuya Matsuda, the author of ‘The Year 2045 Problem (2045年問題)’, is regularly hosting the Singularity Salon, by the way.

The Special Interest Group for AGI (Japanese site) was officially recognized by the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI). The SIG had been an unofficial group, mainly surveying articles on AGI. The SIG held a mini-inaugurating-symposium on September 30th, where Ben Goertzel gave a talk. After the symposium, there were discussions about potential collaborations towards open AGI research among groups (such as OpenCog and WBAI) world-wide. The SIG will hold the first workshop in December.

While they may not be directly related to AGI, companies in Japan are now coming into the AI field as AI has getting more popularity. For example, Recruit Holdings and Toyota are having their AI research sections, inviting researchers from abroad. In the venture domain, companies like Preferred Infrastructure, which released Chainer (the neural network framework), and Nextremer are engaged in researches in AI and machine learning.

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