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Appier AI World: A Deep Dive into the Future of AI

Last week, Appier had the pleasure of co-hosting our first ever ‘AI World’ event with Nikkei in Tokyo.

Last week, Appier had the pleasure of co-hosting our first ever ‘AI World’ event with Nikkei in Tokyo. Artificial intelligence is here to stay and will drive transformation in business and society, in every industry and discipline. At AI World, we gathered an audience of business leaders who are responsible for driving change for their organizations together with speakers from Japan and beyond who are experts in the fields of AI and business transformation. 

We’d like to share a few of the highlights covered by our experts. We’ll be sharing more content in the coming weeks, and we’d be happy to hear from you to talk further about any of the following. As Dr. Sun shared in his opening remarks, we hope the event encourages not just those who attended but everyone in business to explore AI can carry their organizations into the future. 

A big thank you again to our speakers, who were:

  • Dr. Min Sun, Chief AI Scientist, Appier
  • Dr. Masashi Sugiyama, Director, RIKEN; Professor, University of Tokyo
  • Dr. Greg Mori, Borealis AI
  • Dr. Shou-De Lin, National Taiwan University
  • Dr. Supasorn Suwajanakorn, VISTEC
  • Toshio Taki, Director, Fintech Research Institute; Director, Money Forward
  • Kazuto Ataka, Chief Strategy Officer, Yahoo! Japan

Dr. Sugiyama shared evidence that interest in and understanding of AI and machine learning has increased both in Japan and globally, however Japan still needs to improve its representation. AI technology can already do a lot, and replace a certain amount of intelligent work, but Japan must encourage more advanced AI talent to truly drive innovation here. 

Dr. Mori brought perspectives from both the industry and academic sides of AI research. He is passionate that the benefits from AI can be far-reaching. Beyond transforming commercial industries such as ecommerce and banking, it can also have significant implications for areas such as humanitarian aid and elder care. For example, AI can leverage data to identify the locations in most need of aid after a disaster or inform the design of a senior housing facility to prevent accidents. 

Dr. Mori also brings a unique perspective from his work at Borealis AI, a research lab inside the Royal Bank of Canada. Besides developing AI-based technology that is transforming an entire industry, he can see real impact from his work, a privilege of being one of just a few scientists in an otherwise unscientific environment. Dr. Mori also emphasized how important it is for governments to make it easy for the best global AI talent to enter markets from outside, as Canada has done.

Dr. Lin shared a glimpse of what the future of AI might look like, especially as we move towards the possibility of a ‘general AI’. As part of this, he discussed both ethics and transparency as it relates to AI- critical and unavoidable topics that will be at the center of AI adoption. We will need to work on embedding ethics into our AI systems as part of what will make these systems able to successfully collaborate with humans. 

Next, Dr. Suwajanakorn showed us what we can expect when it comes to AI that looks and acts like people. His presentation- full of fun and educational videos- showed us how AI development techniques have advanced to create digital humans’. The technology behind this can also be used to make production easier and cheaper- for example, people (particularly celebrities) will no longer need to travel to studios for filming. Rather, their digital likeness can do the job. The ability to effectively manipulate imagery and video also raises security concerns, of course, but Dr. Suwajanakorn emphasized that the technology itself is neutral- it all depends on how it’s used. He hopes researchers and others working in AI can channel their efforts towards creative work that is good for everyone.

Our next speaker, Mr. Toshio Taki of MoneyForward, spoke specifically about the potential for AI to transform financial services. He highlighted that data is at the core of financial services, and our service providers are likely to know more about us than we know about ourselves, affecting the services offered and advice given. He also spoke about the critical role of authentication, particularly as it relates to the demand for easy and convenient payment (something that Mr. Taki believes is at the core of internet services). It’s critical that banks recognize that they will become software companies. They must keep up with the pace of change while simultaneously ensuring customers they can be trusted. 

Drs. Sun, Sugiyama and Mori then sat together on a panel (moderated by Mr Keiichi Murayama, a commentator for Nikkei) during which they explored how Japanese businesses can best adapt to cutting-edge, transformational technology such as AI. A few key pieces of advice were to make sure businesses are leveraging the full power of data; both educators and employers must encourage rising AI talent to get the maximum qualifications possible (i.e. a PhD); and that management, when implementing AI, must be as aware of what AI cannot do as what it can do, so that it can be most effectively applied without misunderstanding or disappointment.

Our final speaker was Mr. Kazuto Ataka of Yahoo! Japan and a professor at Keio University. He candidly shared statistics that Japan has been struggling in terms of business, economy and education, but that are certainly opportunities for growth. He also emphasized the potential power of data and the need for more AI talent, and that Japanese businesses need to be willing to forge powerful partnerships as no one can keep up with the pace of technological change alone. In a powerful closing statement, he reminded the audience that we often spend time predicting the future, but we need to take charge of shaping the future and that the people in the room were the ones with the power to do so. 


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