AI Research in Japanese Enterprises – Hitachi

Hitachi’s press release of October 26, 2015 indicated that Hitachi AI Technology/Business Improvement Service would be started on November 2, 2015.

 

According to the press release:

Hitachi AI Technology/H is the umbrella name “Hitachi AI Technology” to refer to advanced AI technologies, as well as solutions that incorporate those technologies. Hitachi has been involved in R&D and Proof of Concept (PoC) activities targeting “Hitachi AI Technology/H” for about 10 years. Its applications areas are initially in Marketing and Facilities maintenance.

My advantage is that I can source information in Japanese as well as English. Japanese companies tend to distribute information in English less often than in Japanese. Unless it is a big deal, the information is not reported in English.

Sometimes, or should I say more often, press releases do not contain enough information, and I wonder whether the Japanese media dig into the contents more or just take them at face value. As I reported what NTT Communications was doing in their AI endeavor, I sent an inquiry for a further interview with them early next year. I hope to update the blog on NTT Communications next year with my findings.

Previous Results

Prior to this release, Hitachi has done some experiments using its AI technologies. There may be more, but these are the recent ones.

Logistics Improvement

According to a press release on September 4, 2015, Hitachi optimized logistics by using the data it collected from various business systems. They applied technologies for Big Data and analytics with AI. Hitachi claimed 8% improvement because of this activity.

Business Process Improvement

According to a press release in September 2015, Hitachi worked with Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi UFJ to conduct an experiment for three months this year. Each employee at the bank wore a business-sized sensor to record his or her behavior along with other data collected during business hours. Using the data collected, it came up with a way to optimize business structures and other processes pertinent to its business.

Technically, I can understand the merits of doing that, but I, myself, do not want to be monitored like that. Even if the analysis indicates one way to conduct a business process, I am not sure if I want to conform to it rigidly. One thing I can say is that if it were proposed to a government sector in Japan, their unions would raise a voice of nonconformance. After all, union workers in a government office in charge of social security refused to hit a certain number of key strokes a day.

Logical Dialogue

According to a press release on July 22, 2015, Hitachi developed a system to analyze a controversial discussion and to list aye and nay opinions and their rationales. One thing very odd about it is that the outputs are in English. It was not clear from the release whether the input text was also in English, but I assume so. By the way, the research was conducted with the Communication Science Laboratory (Inui-Okazaki Lab) at Tohoku University.

The newly developed technologies consist of:

1.      Creation of a dictionary for analysis

2.      Creation of a database that lists values and relations

3.      Derivation of certainty

4.      Creation of an architecture that exploits multiple asynchronous and distributed algorithms

These technologies were combined with the one reported in a press release that diagnoses medical conditions and parts in a problem. This was done in cooperation with the International Institute of Information Technology at Hyderabad (IIIT-H) and Hitachi India.

Summary

Like other companies, Hitachi has developed a lot of interesting technologies, and they seem to be ready to put them together into an overall product and services. When they make more progress, I will visit them for further information.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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