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Biotechnology

NEC to open AI lab with public research institute

TOKYO -- Technology giant NEC is joining forces with a government research institute here on a large-scale artificial intelligence research project, it was announced Tuesday.

     The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) will play host to the operation at its Tokyo Waterfront facility. A new AI laboratory bearing both partners' names will be established June 1.

     NEC will provide an annual 100 million yen ($906,000) or more to cover research expenses, and each side will contribute 15 researchers. The collaboration will continue for three years.

     The aim is to make up for AI's shortcomings. While the technology can already uncover new solutions to problems by analyzing massive amounts of existing data, it is not so helpful in areas with only limited data, such as predicting rare events like major disasters or devising product development strategies.

     The researchers intend to tap AIST's advanced simulation technology to generate data based on different situations. They hope to develop AI that will use this additional data to find solutions previously out of reach.

     NEC and other Japanese companies are playing catch-up with such American enterprises as IBM and Google in AI research and development. Many are forming alliances with educational institutions. Toyota Motor set up a U.S. research institute in January, teaming up with partners including Stanford University, for such purposes as the development of driverless-vehicle technology using AI.

     Video website operator Dwango, a Kadokawa Dwango company, will work with partners including the University of Tokyo to research AI capable of making autonomous decisions as humans do. Online advertising agency CyberAgent and Meiji University are developing an AI-based system to automatically generate ads.

(Nikkei)

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