Apple Possibly Looking to Japanese Expertise to Improve Siri

Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted that Japan has a big part to play in the company's ongoing development of AI, as he continued his travels around the country via bullet train on Monday.

Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review, Cook revealed that Apple's new advanced R&D center in Yokohama, currently scheduled for completion in December, would focus on "deep engineering" and would be "very different" from the R&D base Apple is building in China, without giving away specifics.

Tim Cook in Japan

Photo via Tim Cook

However, Cook intimated that one of its main focuses would be on developing Apple's artificial intelligence services – which recently drew some criticism in the press – and emphasized that the company wanted to leverage specifically Japanese expertise in the field.

"AI is horizontal in nature, running across all products, and is used in ways that most people don't even think about," said Cook. "We want the AI to increase your battery life, to recommend music to Apple Music subscribers... [to] help you remember where you parked your car."

Japan's robotics heritage is legendary, coming on the back of years of successfully building industrial robots, however the state of its AI research remains ambiguous, given its relative lack of investment in deep learning from large amounts of analyzed data, which U.S. companies like Facebook and Google are already heavily researching.

To improve on this front, Japan has just opened a Center for Advanced Integrated Intelligence Research in Tokyo (RIKEN), which specifically aims to develop systems of AI that will be able to solve problems using "Big Data". The institution will work with several large companies including Sony, NEC and Toyota, and is set to receive state funding of $99.7 million over the next financial year.

Elsewhere in his interview, Cook talked up the Japanese model of the iPhone with regard to its hardware integration with Sony's contactless FeliCa standard, which is widely used across the country for making quick payments. "Japan is important to us. FeliCa was born in Japan. So by extension, FeliCa is important," he said.

Cook also said he hoped the use of Apple Pay, the iPhone and the Apple Watch would promote a cashless society: "We would like to be a catalyst for taking cash out of the system," he said. "We don't think the consumer particularly likes cash."

In addition, Apple is said to be working with IBM and Japan Post Holdings to offer health care services for the country's elderly, with the iPad being at the center of the program. Given the rapid aging of the country's population, Cook said "Japan is in the best position to lead" the way on such technology.

Previously during his Japan visit, Tim Cook met with Nintendo's legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and played Super Mario Run, which is expected to arrive on iPhones by the end of the year. It's unclear what else Cook is planning during the rest of his stay in the country.

Tag: Japan

Top Rated Comments

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52 months ago
Siri-san, where is my new MacBook Pro?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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52 months ago
Good. Love Japanese engineering; great culture of precision and quality. Steer all business away from the intellectual property thieves in China and South Korea.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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52 months ago
"We don't think the consumer particularly likes cash."

Speak for yourself, Tim! Cash is untraceable - no Big Data when cash is the vehicle of payment; Don't have to worry about my "Cash" data being hacked or hijacked or stolen by some third world script kiddies or state actors.

Cash is just fine for me!

YMMV
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago

"We don't think the consumer particularly likes cash."

Wrong. Consumers love cash. Citizens should love cash. Citizens should never, ever allow only digital currency: your privacy will be eliminated. They will track Every. Single. Transaction. Forever.

Banks and tech companies also will constantly push for transaction fees and other costs every time you seek to use your "digital money." You will be constantly taxed, charged, gouged to use your own money.

This already happens with credit cards via the ubiquitous interchange fee, a massive tax all of us are paying to use credit cards. And it also happens with outrageous fees for out-of-network ATMs. It will be much, much worse with digital currency -- because there will be no alternative, which is exactly what tech, banks, and the corrupt Federal Reserve want.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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52 months ago

Anybody else but me wonder why the number $99.7 million was used instead of roughly $1 billion dollars?

Probably because it's no where near a billion dollars. I think you meant roughly $100 million dollars.

$99.7million <---------------------------------------$900million--->$1billion.:D:p
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
At this point, I think it would behoove Apple to invest further into Siri, one way or the other. There's no hiding that Siri has fallen behind and everybody's aware of it, mainly in dictation and deciphering, in my opinion.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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