Influencing every area of Japanese culture from the workplace to the dating world, the futuristic vision of Japan you see in sci-fi movies is already here. The difference is that it’s not trying to kill us — it’s a hidden part of everyday life.
So what exactly is AI?
It’s not just super intelligent robots. Weak artificial intelligence (AI) is built for a particular purpose, typically by businesses to provide a particular type of service. When Facebook automatically detects the faces of your friends in a creepy way, it’s using a branch of AI called “deep learning,” where AI is trained on previous photos of your tagged friends and general photos of people. This first identifies the presence of a face and then predicts just whose face it is. As with humans, AI isn’t perfect and sometimes it will get it wrong.
Strong AI is closer to our "Bladerunner"-esque imaginations. The “stronger” the AI, the more it can “think” for itself and seem sentient. We are only just scratching the surface of developing strong AI. However, some projects are getting close, such as Google’s Deep Mind, which can navigate through complex game levels and can even walk by itself… well, sort of.
Why does Japan embrace it?
Partially due to its depiction in media, the Japanese depiction of strong AI as cute, intelligent companions through famous childhood TV series such as "Doraemon," or amazingly human-like and emotive characters in many anime series. In comparison, the depiction of AI in Western media (often in a cool, modern, post-apocalyptic style like "Ex Machina") can paint AI in a negative light, and the concept is feared by many.
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