A Japanese Version of ChatGPT is Being Developed

A Japanese Version of ChatGPT is Being Developed

By Staff Writer, 17 September 2023

In response to the global success of OpenAI's ChatGPT, Japan is investing substantial funds into developing its own AI chatbot using the underlying technology of large language models (LLMs).

The Japanese government and major tech companies like NEC, Fujitsu, and SoftBank are channeling significant resources into creating AI systems that utilize the Japanese language directly, addressing the limitations faced by translations from English.

According to Keisuke Sakaguchi, a researcher at Tohoku University, current public LLMs like GPT perform exceptionally well in English but often struggle with Japanese due to differences in the alphabet system, limited data, and other language-specific factors.

Related: ChatGPT Rival: Baidu, Chinese Search Giant, Launches a Competitor to the Sensational Chatbot

ChatGPT, a language generation model, learns speech and prose patterns using large amounts of publicly available data, primarily in English, predicting the next word based on context.

Its human-like conversation capabilities have fascinated and raised concerns among researchers.

Some view it as a potential time-saving tool, while others fear its misuse for fabricating scientific papers or data.

In Japan, there's apprehension that AI systems trained on non-Japanese data may struggle to grasp the nuances of their language and culture, necessitating translation for accurate responses.

The Japanese writing system is intricate, comprising two sets of 48 basic characters and around 2,136 commonly used Chinese characters known as kanji, in addition to approximately 50,000 rarely utilized kanji.

Due to this complexity, ChatGPT, despite its proficiency in English with only 26 letters, can struggle with Japanese.

ChatGPT often produces rare characters and unfamiliar words in Japanese, as mentioned by Sakaguchi.

Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank is investing ¥20 billion in generative AI trained on Japanese text and plans to launch its own language model (LLM) next year.

The firm, with 40 million customers and a partnership with OpenAI investor Microsoft, aims to assist businesses in digitizing and enhancing productivity.

SoftBank envisions its LLM being utilized by universities, research institutions, and various organizations.

Related: Apple has Inked a New Agreement with Softbank's Arm on Chip Technology Development That Stretches Beyond 2040

Additionally, Japanese researchers aspire to develop a precise and effective AI chatbot, specific to Japan, to expedite scientific advancements and foster global connections.

They believe an accurate Japanese version of ChatGPT could greatly benefit those learning Japanese or conducting research on Japan, potentially positively impacting international joint research efforts.

Source: Tim Hornyak, Nature Magazine

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