Softbank AI

Sunday 22nd February 2015

Exponential Technology: The Smartphone Industry

Chipmaker ARM believes that with its new chips announced last week—a new Cortex-A72 processor and Mali-T880 GPU—we’ll be able to count on our smartphones to do all the tasks we currently need a computer to do.

The company is so confident of this, it’s projecting a date when we can go phone-only: 2016. That leaves us roughly 23 months to make it happen. But most of us are already phone-first today, and given the current speed at which the industry is moving, we’ll be rounding that bend very soon.

ARM’s new CPU provides a 50x increase in performance over chips from five years ago, on 75 percent less energy than chips from three years ago.

Apple’s A8 chip in the iPhone 6 is 50 times faster than the chip in the original iPhone, and its GPU is 84 times faster.

Christina Bonnington


Sunday 22nd February 2015

Number of Robots Booming in Japan

If you are a human who works at the Kawada factory outside Tokyo, most of your coworkers are robots. On the assembly line, the company’s uber-advanced, human-looking robots can do the work of three people. They can also make you a decent cup of coffee.

In another Tokyo suburb, a cartoonesque robot named Pepper, the first robot designed to respond to human emotions, is joking with customers at a store selling mobile phones.

While Japan has been a robot-friendly place for a long time, the number of robots is now booming, even as its human population is not. In the next five years, the country hopes to build 20 times more of them.

Though robots aren’t new on factory floors, new advancements mean that they’re suddenly poised to play a significant role. “The cost of robots has been declining over a few years, they’ve been getting cheaper, but you’re also seeing a performance increase,” Zinser explains. “We’re at a point now in many industries, and many different kinds of tasks, where you’re starting to reach an inflection point. Price and performance is actually at a threshold where it makes sense for a manufacturer to deploy that robot today than it would to pay for human labor.”

This isn’t only happening in Japan. The U.S. is projected to purchase around 1.2 million robots in the next decade. Other countries that have lost manufacturing because of higher wages hope to start to bringing factories back—potentially leading to other benefits, like reduced shipping distances – Adele Peters


Wednesday 6th May 2015

Robots Entering the Workforce in Japan

A growing number of Japanese businesses are testing out robots as a possible solution to the country’s shrinking workforce. They’re appearing in stores, banks and soon even hotels.

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is trying out “Nao,” a customer service robot that answers basic questions and is designed to speak 19 languages. The robotic polygot could prove useful serving foreign customers during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. By then, the bank hopes to have even more robots on staff.

A hotel scheduled to open at Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki this summer plans to have 10 robot staff members and aims to increase that to more than 90% of hotel services operated by robots – Will Ripley


Sunday 28th June 2015

Softbank Robot Pepper Sells Out in a Minute

Billed as the world’s first robot capable of understanding and reacting to human emotions, the 121-centimeter tall, white plastic robot can recognize human voices and read facial expressions and body language, as well as carry on basic conversations.

SoftBank said it is no longer taking orders for June and that plans for additional sales of the robot, designed by French subsidiary Aldebaran Robotics, will be announced in July.

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s founder and chief executive, said Thursday that the company plans to produce around 1,000 units a month. The Japanese telecommunications giant also announced a partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group with an eye toward bringing Pepper to the global market.

Pepper’s price tag is ¥198,000 ($1,611), but to take full advantage of apps and other cloud-based functions, consumers need a service contract totaling nearly ¥25,000 a month over three years, including insurance – Alexander Martin


Wednesday 20th January 2016

Softbank’s Pepper Robot to Get Smarter with IBM’s Watson AI

When it launched last year, SoftBank’s emotion-reading robot Pepper sold out in just one minute despite its limited utility.

Now, Pepper’s about to get smarter thanks to a partnership with IBM to integrate Watson cognitive system into its brains.

With Watson, developers hope to help Pepper understand human emotions more thoroughly to appropriately respond and engage with its users.

Pepper is intended to be used in an enterprise setting so businesses can employ Pepper to greet customers or help at self-service kiosks. The two companies are also exploring ways to use Pepper in medical assistance and education. – Natt Garlin


Thursday 18th August 2016

The Singularity is Coming

Masayoshi Son (the 2nd richest person in Japan) cashed in on his investments this year, resulting in the sale of $18.6bn worth of shares in Alibaba and Supercell. In addition to those proceeds, SoftBank has $25bn in cash.

The asset sales have intensified the guessing game around the likely target of any new gamble by the mercurial chief executive.

“The next big investment could be in artificial intelligence and robotics,” Shigeyuki Kishida, a consultant at InfoCom Research, says. “AI is expected to penetrate various industries and Mr Son wants to create an underlying platform to support those industries.”

“I still have unfinished business regarding the Singularity,” Son told the Nikkei.

“There will come a time when the human race and super intelligence will coexist to create a richer and happier life.”

“That is what I want to devote my life to. I believe information revolution in the true sense has just begun. My work is not done yet.” – Leo Lewis, Kana Inagaki and Simon Mundy


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