WAP establishes AI Research Institute in Tokushima Prefecture

Research focus on natural language processing, aiming for utilization of digital personal assistant within business operations

20170209_2.pngWork Applications Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Masayuki Makino, hereinafter referred to as “WAP”), today announced the establishment of artificial intelligence (AI) research institute, “WAP Tokushima Laboratory of AI and NLP” (hereinafter referred to as “Tokushima laboratory”) in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture. The laboratory focuses on researching natural language processing and has officially started the operation from February 2017.

Establishment of Tokushima laboratory

AI WORKS (referred as HUE in Japan) is the world’s first enterprise system equipped with artificial intelligence. Utilizing operational log data accumulated within organizations as training data for machine learning, AI WORKS offers unprecedented usability and operational efficiency by predicting users’ next operations (such as inputting items based on user attributes, suggestion of search results, and operation recommendations). In addition to incorporating machine learning in AI WORKS, WAP is researching on natural language processing for operational usage based on analysis of user speech and text data. Research results will be utilized in improvement and development of AI supported functions to better serve user needs.

Research Topic

Tokushima laboratory will mainly research on the following topic to achieve operational utilization of natural language processing.

Digital Personal Assistant System

Digital Personal Assistant System supports daily operations of each employee in addition to supporting specialized operations such as human resources and accounting operations
Automatic adjustment of schedules/conference room booking
Vocal recognition Chatbot
Company document / Information management

Digital Personal Assistant System

Office Support System streamlines operations of the entire office
Automatic translation during meetings
Automatic preparation / classification of meeting minutes
24/7 video and audio connectivity between multiple locations

In addition, the laboratory will release its natural language processing tools and language resources as open source to Japan and English-speaking countries to promote research development of natural language processing.

About the effort

◇Inviting leading expert on natural language processing as special technical advisor
Tokushima laboratory has invited Dr. Yuji Matsumoto, professor of Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) and leading expert on natural language processing in Japan as special technical advisor. Mr. Matsumoto is recognized and respected internationally for his work in the field; he was the first to be selected by the Fellow system established by Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) in 2011, the highest academic authority on natural language processing. In the establishment of the laboratory, Mr. Matsumoto expressed keen support on WAP’s effort in advancing research on natural language processing and development of analysis engine and resources as foundations for operations support systems (OSS).

Dr. Yuji Matsumoto, Professor at Graduate School of Information Science Nara Institute of Science and Technology
20170209.jpg“Much information is expressed as integrated media, including language. Utilization of natural language processing is necessary to further improve research on the topic and business operations. Works Applications has been making progress on research topics such as morphological analysis engine, thesaurus, and proper noun dictionary to be embedded in open operations support systems. The company has also been developing AI WORKS, an enterprise system equipped with artificial intelligence including natural language processing. I am thrilled and am on a firm belief that these efforts will contribute to the foundation of natural language processing and its practical realization.”

◇Collaboration between business, academia, and the government
Tokushima laboratory will conduct a joint research between WAP and Tokushima University to realize operational utilization of NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING. In addition to researching on dialog system to improve operational efficiency including scheduling, there will be exchange of talents between the two organizations.
The laboratory has been established with support from Tokushima prefecture. In addition, the number of researchers will be increased to 50 people in the next five years, serving as a central AI researching center for WAP.
In order to promote and further strengthen rural areas, Japanese government offers tax benefit to Tokyo headquartered (within 23 wards in Tokyo) companies who transfer or build part of the business function of the headquarter to rural areas. Tokushima laboratory was approved by Tokushima prefecture as the first such effort within the prefecture.
WAP will continue to contribute in employment in Tokushima prefecture by collaborating with Tokushima University who attracts top talents in NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING and hiring top talents in the field of AI.

From documents presented by Tokushima prefecture ※Excerpt

Tokushima Prefecture has been working extensively on attracting information and communication technology industry by offering one of the best fiber-optic broadband environment in Japan and promoting transferring of headquarter functions from Tokyo following Japanese government effort in promoting and developing rural areas. WAP’s effort in building a rural research facility and utilizing talents in the area matched with that of Tokushima prefecture’s, which led to the support from the prefecture.

・ Tokushima prefecture has approved WAP’s establishment of the laboratory as the first effort within the prefecture to transfer      part of the functions of headquarters from Tokyo (from 23 wards in Tokyo). As over-concentration of population and industry       within Tokyo Metropolitan area continues to progress, the prefecture will continue to work on revitalizing the rural area by further strengthening the area.

・ The prefecture has appointed Tokushima laboratory as one of the designated offices that are qualified to receive “Fund for promotion of information and communication technology businesses”, given that the laboratory will work on creating employment opportunities within the prefecture and promote informatization of the local industry. The prefecture will continue to provide support in coordination with local companies and educational institutions in the area of skill development and securing internal and external talents to generate more talents for information and communication technology industry including AI research.

About natural language processing

Natural language processing is an all-inclusive term for technologies and software that allow computers to process language used by humans including Japanese and English. It is part of the field within AI and linguistics. It is utilized in various aspects including kana-kanji conversion during inputting, ambiguous search, and speech recognition.

About Tokushima Laboratory

Organization Name:WAP Tokushima Laboratory of AI and NLP
Activity:Basic research and development of AI technology specialized in natural language processing
Location:1-9-1, Higashi-daikumachi, Tokushima
Established:February , 2017
Chief officer:Yoshitaka Uchida

Announcement for researcher recruitment

Tokushima laboratory is currently looking for talented researchers who can join the team.

What you will be working on:
Researchers will engage in the following activities in the laboratory.
・Research and development on morphological analysis, proper noun extraction technology, and dependency structure analysis
・Research and development of extracting key phrases and synonyms
・Improve accuracy of full-text search
・Research and development of chatbot
・Develop various language resources
・Publish natural language processing tools and language resources as open source

You will be able to research with massive amount of data such as operational log data as foundation accumulated with WAP’s customer base of more than 1,200 major group companies worldwide.

・Tokushima City (Tokushima First Building: Approximately 10 minute walk from Tokushima station)

Why work at Tokushima laboratory?
・You will be able to be actively involved and become a core member at the newly established laboratory.
・You will be able to work in collaboration with the government and academic institutions with the following merits.
  -Professor Yuji Matsumoto from Nara Institute of Science and Technology is serving as the technical advisor for the laboratory.
  -This is a joint research effort with Tokushima University.
  -There will be collaboration with Tokushima Prefecture.
・You can concentrate on research and development in an ideal environment, away from the hustle and bustle of cities.
・You will be able to work and collaborate with WAP’s offices around the world. (Planning to implement 24/7 visual and audio connection with offices such as in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore)

・More than 3 years of research or operation experience related to natural language processing
・Programming experience(Java or Python or C++)
・Beginner level of Japanese

・Master’s or doctorate degree in computer science, natural language processing, or machine learning

Media Contact:

Works Applications

Japan: Sarasa Ota, Chuzen kin

Email: publicrelations@worksap.com

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