Little Private Investment in Tokyo
Should Japan raise the budget in robotics research?
In 2004, a robotic film, “I, Robot”, depicted the future of human kinds. The drama clearly set the stage of the dystopian world run by U.S. Robotics in Chicago. Detective Spooner (Will Smith) saved the world with collaboration with human-like robot, Sonny. The scientists blocked the mechanical miscalculation by Sonny intact with The Three Laws of Robotics.
First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
The science fiction writer left the movie viewers to refine the technical standard and write its ethical code. Little has changed since 2004. A lot of capital might have been wasted in research.
On March 14, 2022, two scholars of AI researchers appeared on the stage of online event at Harvard Business School Club in Tokyo. The Club has hosted a series of sustainability of business and human kinds. That day, it was a little bit academic, not practical.
One scholar mentioned that the wave of AI has emerged since 2012. Since then, the research boom attracted huge amount of money in AI concentrated facilities in Boston. In lightof ethic code consideration in robots, a scholar raised three dimensions to pay attention to; value, fairness, and autonomy.
If researchers wire the robot with the perfect ethical code, robots will never conduct unethical behaviors such us killing, breaking the security or engaging in criminal war such as Russia invading into Ukraine. That is autonomous solution.
U.S is currently leading AI research, far surpassing other nine developed countries in research fund with $23bn in 2021. To consume abundant scholastic search and rapid commercialization, top research institutions such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford advanced its basic findings to the robotics applications.
But in Asia, the situation looks far less attractive, especially in Tokyo. China leads AI research in funding scale and private investment. Since the start of this year, China accumulated nearly the same level of private investment to top notch firms in the Continent. One third of world-class AI talents are from China, according to the paper-published episode of the Economist on January 22, 2022. Readers can find the episode, “Artificial Intelligence, In search of mastery.”
The episode warns the readers with three shortcomings of China in AI research, not financial contribution but inherent risks of capital and human allocation and technological disadvantage.
First, the capital has been misallocated, creating damages of subsidy-led local officials as well as AI industry. Private firms in China falsely developed the code to receive the funds from the multiple sources of subsidies. An analysis of Deloitte estimated 99% of self-styled startups in China were fake in 2018. A “reckless and redundant” research merely consumed unrealistic research with no alternate deployment.
Second, an especially damaging reality lies in the unattractive environment of Chinese soil. More than half of Chinese talents work outside Asia and moved their scholastic practice to other countries such as America and Europe. America looks far promising. Duplicate fund figures seem attractive but less appealing in actual works.
The third shortcoming refers to the cutting-edge semiconductors which empower AI processing. Dao 2.0, the system developed by the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI) uses its power from a neural network with 175trn variables. GPT-3, an earlier model operated a year earlier, drives 175bn parameters. It is questionable that China has a plan to access advanced computer chips. In America equipment makers, they catch up with the fast-paced industrial revolution.
In the intelligence race, America and China are head-to-head, not Japan. Japan ranks 8th in research fund allocation with far less than $10bn, which China raked in 2021. A rising sun, the alternate name of Japan, realized a sunk cost of little private capital with less than rough $500m. With presence of the third largest GDP nation with $5.4trn, less than a fourth of America, it boasts to raise the research fund with $1bn. But without AI talents, it is self-evident that the money will be wasted and falsely used for the alternate research.
In the list of most-quoted paper in AI research, no Japanese minds appeared on the ranking in top 30 in 2018. Worse, no one identifies Japanese scholars’ names in top 300, either. That explains a little research investment in AI in Tokyo.
Should Japan raise the AI budget by spending more money in the research?
The answer is self-explanatory. Observe the risk-averse nature of Japanese households saving $18trn (3.5x of its GDP) in personal bank accounts and similar corporate orientation holding $6trn similar to GDP in the upper left corner of their balance sheets. The Japanese like to save. Almost no one wants to consume their assets by wastefulness. A brief history of spending in artificial intelligence speaks for itself.
Time has passed since 2012 when the AI wave flooded the science. Japan has caught on some elements of robotic advancement but merely consumed the valuable time investigating the applicability of the ethical codes. It is too late to start its own research. It is far behind China.
If the $1bn academic fund is budgeted in the national level, animators grab some part of it to develop anime with robotics story in their studios. Be aware. Money is coming into your pockets. Certainly, they name the main detective character, Will Smith. He will win the contest for the next anima drama.