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China teaches students programming from an early age in an effort to get a leg up on technology studies. (Photo by Yasuhiro Morizono)

Help wanted -- young AI engineers in demand in Japan

Shortage of specialists leads companies and schools to start training early

| China

SHANGHAI/TOKYO -- The room was silent aside from the sound of fingertips tapping on keyboards. Some 50 graduate students from the top of their classes at Peking University, Tsinghua University and other schools were single-mindedly typing away as they participated in a selection process for hiring new graduates held here in March. Each of them was vying for a position at Works Applications, a Tokyo-based artificial intelligence software developer. 

The subject: Create the bookstore chain of the future. The task: Build a software system to run the business. The deadline: Five days. 

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