Japan’s AI Research and Development Directions: AI Action Plan
In June 2021, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan (NEDO) released a report on “Japan’s AI Research and Development Directions: AI Action Plan.” It suggests that in the coming decade, Japan should actively promote AI applications in manufacturing, life and cities, mobility, education, and health (wellbeing). For the manufacturing sector, the action plan identifies an AI platform for process optimisation, the development of AI technologies for small-batch production for multiple products, and the development of specialized AI technology for molecular design as areas of high potential.
The report observes that currently, use of AI in the manufacturing sector focuses on optimisation of raw material acquisition. However, extending AI applications to optimise the entire manufacturing process has the potential to improve the efficiency of product development and thus contribute to increasing Japan’s international competitiveness in manufacturing.
Similarly, the report expects that the development of AI technologies for small-batch production in fields that have not yet utilised AI technologies may improve and increase productivity in the manufacturing sector. In addition, the report highlights that in molecular design, deep learning methods applied to the outcomes of clinical trials and gene data of viruses are likely to advance the development of effective vaccines for newly discovered infectious diseases. The report concludes with a discussion of challenges facing the acceleration of AI applications in Japan. It identifies several priority areas for further research, including human–AI communication, auto-generation of machine learning data, and interoperability among the AI systems. In addition, the report highlights the importance of creating an enabling environment for AI experimentation in society.