We are currently living in the greatest advancements of Artificial Intelligence in history. It has emerged to be the next best thing in technology and has impacted the future of almost every industry. We’ve reached the point where there’s an intersection of data, technology and business need which are moving from proof of concepts to large scale production deployments in real time world.
Rakuten Group has 70+ businesses and almost 1.5 billion members across the world that serves users worldwide through businesses based in 30 countries and regions. As Rakuten members engage across many facets of their lives with Rakuten Group services (such as e-commerce, fintech, advertising, investing etc) massive volumes of data are generated every minute. By deriving deep insights from wealth of data Rakuten is able to drive Personalization and improve the experience of all of its members. This is something clearly evident for Rakuten Ichiba ecommerce digital service that brings together diverse and unique merchants to create a vibrant and lively online shopping mall. Rakuten’s innovations and competitive services are driven and guided by the passion to empower people and society.
Rakuten Institute of Technology (RIT) is the core AI research wing of Rakuten. At Rakuten the AI Innovation & strategy is aligned to the business strategy. Some of the areas where RIT innovation is shaping major verticals, namely, Customer Program whose aim is to acquire a deep customer understanding for Rakuten membership, Natural Language program that deals with automating product catalog & machine translation, Voice AI to empower users of Rakuten Mobile with voice commands, Conversation AI to self serve the customer, Vision program whose mission is to provide frictionless image-based experience, and moonshot initiatives programs like curing cancer using AI, a fully autonomous mobile network and explore real use cases for quantum computing.
The future of AI in the next decade looks quite promising and eventful. There will be surge in the use of this technology in everyday life. The transformation brought by AI has been so pervasive that it is deeply influencing user experience and how humans interact with brands and technologies. AI would be able to suggest the perfect product to shoppers and to make sure that the product is stocked up, back at the warehouse. One will use AI to understand and detect life-threatening diseases in the early stage. More and more new algorithms will be developed to handle complex data, learn deeper with the lesser size of annotated data sets. Most of the NLP tasks will be supported by large pertained transformer BERT/BART models along with Neurosymbolic AI study to bring more context-awareness supporting reasoning layer. This shall reduce the effort of training text or images through all possible orientations, explaining causation effects and reasoning beyond learning. Rakuten is fully invested on these varied initiatives to ensure it is always ahead of the innovation curve.
Rakuten consists of AI research scientists and AI engineers who have in-depth specialization in machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, knowledge discovery and data mining. RIT being a research institute, it has collaborated with top notch academic and scientific institutes around the globe. By working on collaborative research projects, the bridge between academia and industry is established.
While the opportunities of AI are great, there are risks that need to be addressed. Datasets and algorithms can reflect or reinforce gender, racial or ideological biases. When the datasets (fed by humans) that AI rely on are incomplete or biased, they may lead to biased AI conclusions.
Moving forward, we need to have a very good understanding on international standards, technical specifications and requirements which will help to build AI technologies and solutions that perform well which are reliable and transparent especially in the highly regulated medical and Finance areas. Rakuten will continue to invest in its core strength producing not only the latest cutting-edge AI solutions which can transform business and Human life but they can be trusted and explainable. This, in turn, will encourage people to use their expertise, experience and intuition to validate conclusions or make a different decision than the one proposed by the machine.