A perspective on technology trends for 2013

At Fujitsu, we believe passionately that innovation in technology is our route to secure a better future. We have an ambitious vision; we call it Human Centric Intelligent Society. Human Centric Intelligent Society is about building a better, more sustainable society through the power of ICT. It means putting people at the heart of the world, and using technology to deliver innovation into everything we do. It means powering business and society with information and bringing together the physical and digital to deliver greater benefit across society. And it means orchestrating technology from end to end to deliver greater understanding and control of the world around us.

In line with this vision we are pleased to announce our new Technology Perspectives website. Technology Perspectives is a collection of articles that represent the views and experience of key people from Fujitsu around the world including myself. We look at the many different ways in which technology is shaping our world in 2013 across a broad range of topics. We investigate the continually evolving relationship between the business world and technology, and the opportunities that will arise.

There is a wealth of information in this resource and I encourage you to read it and to use it as a reference for strategy and planning. We will spend some time on this blog during the year exploring some of the topics in more detail.

I would be very interested in hearing your feedback on this resource – please send any feedback to me via the comment form below.

Can a computer pass a University Entrance Exam?

Fujitsu CTO Craig Baty talks about Fujitsu’s quest to build an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) Undergraduate

Fujitsu Laboratories and Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) will take part in an artificial brain project, known as “Can a Robot Pass the University of Tokyo (Todai) Entrance Exam?”, otherwise known as “Todai Robot.” Based on formula manipulation and computer algebra technology, Fujitsu Laboratories will participate as the math team for the project.

Led by NII professor Noriko Arai, Todai Robot was started in 2011. The goal is to enable an artificial brain to score high marks in the Japanese National Center for University Entrance Examinations by 2016, and to cross the admission threshold for Todai by 2021.
For many years, Fujitsu Laboratories has been researching formula manipulation and computer algebra for solving mathematical problems related to mathematical analysis and optimisation technologies. Fujitsu’s involvement in the Todai Robot math team is a way to develop technologies required for human-centric ICT. Technologies developed under this project should enable anyone to easily use sophisticated mathematical analysis tools, leading to solutions for a wide range of real-world problems, and the automation of mathematical analysis and optimization.

The project aims to increase the accuracy of elemental AI technologies developed to date, and integrate them to create future value in information technology, while also deepening our comprehensive understanding of human thought.

For a computer to solve math entrance-exam problems (1), it must first convert the problem text (expressed in natural language and formulas easily understood by humans), into a program executeable form. The next step is for a program known as a “solver” to solve the problem. This requires three processes as shown in the diagram below.

Procedure for solving the math problem

Getting a computer to understand text that was intended for humans is not an easy task. Using natural-language processing to draw out a semantic representation of the problem text is not simply a matter of analyzing the words. It also involves skillfully integrating mathematical terminology and a high-school level understanding of math. Beyond that, it needs to decide the best way for the computer to solve the problem. Currently only approximately 50–60% of Level 2 entrance-exam problems can be solved, even using computer algebra technology, so the challenge of the project is to improve the algorithm.

 Notes:

  1. Math Problems. Math entrance-exam problems are high-school math problems been contributed by the Benesse Corporation, Tokyo Shoseki Co., Ltd., and JC Educational Institute, Inc
  2. The initiatives of the math team are scheduled to be detailed in “Uniting Natural Language Processing and Computer Algebra to Solve Mathematics Problems” (Akiko Aizawa, Takuya Matsuzaki, Hirokazu Anai), a paper in a special issue on the Todai Robot project in vol. 27, no. 5 of the Journal of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence.

See Australia’s fastest supercomputer being built

Earlier this year we announced that the Australian National University (ANU) has selected Fujitsu to supply and install a High Performance Computer (HPC) for the National Computing Infrastructure (NCI) project.

The Fujitsu Primergy cluster high-performance supercomputer was constructed at the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) in late 2012. This machine debuted at number 24 on the World Top 500 Supercomputer ranking. This means it is ranked as the 24th most powerful computer in the World, and also the fastest computer in Australia. The NCI computer uses technology developed for Japan’s ‘K’ Computer, which was until recently the world’s fastest computer.

Australia's fastest computer being builtIf you are interested in seeing Australia’s fastest supercomputer being built, click here to see our time-lapse video of the computer coming together from an empty data centre through to a fully functioning supercomputer. The video compresses almost three months of installation activity into approximately one minute of video.

To express the power and scope of this machine in terms we all understand, here are a few key statistics:

  • It has 57,000 cores, which is the equivalent of approximately 15,000 home PC’s
  • 160 terabytes of RAM = approximately 40,000 home PC’s
  • 10 petabytes of hard disc = 10,000 PC hard drives
  • 1,200 teraflops of peak computational performance = 5 months worth of calculations by 1 billion people armed with calculators, in just 1 second.
  • 9 terabyes of network = 9 million home internet bandwidth connections

At the NCI, we can be assured that this computer will be put to good use in support of a wide range of research initiatives across the region. NCI’s advanced computing infrastructure is funded through programs of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, while its operations are sustained through the substantial co-investment by a number of partner organisations including ANU, CSIRO, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, a number of Australia’s research-intensive universities, and the Australian Research Council.

For ICT companies such as Fujitsu, development of supercomputing technology can be likened to the development of Formula One cars by the large car companies. Concepts proven in this field can be adapted to more mainstream applications that benefit the general public. For Fujitsu the K-computer in Tokyo, which is a joint project between RIKEN and Fujitsu, has laid the foundations for much of Fujitsu’s future commercial endeavours.

Mr Yamada, Head of Fujitsu’s Supercomputing business describes the advancements well when he describes the processing power of the K-Computer in this video. Until recently the K Computer was the world’s fastest computer.

Imagine a football stadium filled with 50,000 people. They all have a calculator in their hand and start a calculation together doing one operation per second. What would take this group 6,340 years would take the K Computer only one second.

While it is easy to be consumed by discussions about processing power it is far more interesting to look at what this means in terms of its impact on the world. In medical science for example, it has for a long time been possible to create a simulation of the human heart for research purposes. Today’s supercomputing power enables us to take this one step further – rather than modelling a generic heart we can now quickly process a person’s vital signs and create a model of the individual heart. This means that we can now model the effects of an operation on the individual’s heart to simulate its reactions to an operation before we operate! Essentially the gain is in being able to process, model and simulate in a matter of days, not months or years – making the technology available on a wider scale. Similar examples can be found in a number of other fields including mineral exploration and predicting the effects of natual disasters such as tsunamis.

 

Fujitsu Cloud keeps dogs fit and healthy!

Wandant Dog PedometerEvery week we are seeing interesting and innovative new ways that cloud computing is helping us in our day-to-day lives. This week was no exception, with Fujitsu announcing the release of the ‘Wandant‘ dog pedometer, which was developed by Fujitsu Laboratories.

The Wandant uses a combination of motion-tracking technology(and an associated cloud service) that supports health management for dogs—the first of its kind in the pet care industry. It uses the same sensing technologies developed for use in mobile phones incorporated into a tag worn on the dog’s collar, which automatically measures and records the number of steps taken, shivering motions, and temperature changes. This data is collected in the cloud and presented as a graphic on a website that reports trends in the dog’s activities that are easy to understand at a glance, facilitating management of the dog’s health and preventing obesity.

 As high-speed broadband becomes ubiquitous thanks to networks such as Australia’s National Broadband Network we are sure to see more cloud enabled innovation such as in this example.