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February 2, 2024

Technology

Focusing on IOWN application cases & NTT-generated AI large-scale language models! Latest results presented at NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION.

NTT held the NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION from November 14-17, 2023. This year's exhibition focused on specific services and systems of IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network), which started service in March this year, and NTT's version of AI technology for generative AI. We will introduce the latest results of NTT Group R&D through keynote speeches at NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION and noteworthy exhibits.

1) Overview of NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION and highlights

NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION was held for the first time since the launch of IOWN services. The latest research and development of IOWN was introduced through lectures by invited speakers from NTT and other prominent figures outside the company, along with approximately 100 exhibits. In the exhibition, in addition to sections for each of the three timelines according to the maturity of the technology (IOWN Now, Evolution, and Future), a special section (IOWN Pick Up) was dedicated to large-scale language models (LLMs), which have recently become a hot topic.

The NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION introduced about 100 exhibits, which were organized in 4 timelines and 18 themes.

Timeline:

  • IOWN Pickup
  • IOWN Now
  • IOWN Evolution
  • IOWN Future

Six representative themes:

  1. Large-scale language models for generative AI
  2. Next-generation computing infrastructure
  3. APN (All-Photonics Network)
  4. Sustainable Technology
  5. Next-generation wireless communication technology

2) Keynote Speech

Image: 2) Keynote Speech

In his keynote speech at NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION, Akira Shimada, President and CEO of NTT, urged that we "Take on the challenge. For people and the planet." He spoke about NTT R&D's efforts to continue taking on challenges for the sake of people and the Earth.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Shimada explained the challenges that modern society faces, such as labor shortages, environmental and energy issues, and the increasing cost of medical care, as well as the need to realize a society of wellbeing. He commented: "We would like to solve these issues by focusing on IOWN, a next-generation communication infrastructure with high capacity, low latency, and low power consumption, and 'tsuzumi,' a compact and power-saving large-scale language model (LMM) with world-class language processing capabilities."

He then described how he plans to address each of society's problems in turn:

"First, we need to address the labor shortage. In the construction industry today, labor shortages, long working hours, and the aging of engineers are becoming more and more serious. In addition, the cap on overtime work will be applied from FY2024, and there is a need to reform work styles, such as increasing work efficiency and diversifying employment. In response, NTT is promoting remote operation of construction equipment to ensure efficient and safe construction work in collaboration with EarthBrain, JiZaie, and Takenaka Corporation.

"Next, we are addressing environmental and energy issues. In a data-driven society, enormous amounts of electricity are required to process rapidly growing data. NTT is trying to solve this problem through distributed data centers using APNs, which can be located in suburban areas that have not been considered in the past, because they are not affected by communication delays. Costs and power consumption can also be reduced, making it possible to both contribute to a data-driven society and be carbon neutral.

"Next, I would like to address the increasing cost of medical care due to the aging of society and the realization of a wellbeing society. In the medical field, the introduction of electronic medical records has been progressing in Japan, but it has been very difficult to collect and analyze medical record data, because the way medical records are written differs from hospital to hospital and from doctor to doctor, even for the same symptoms. In contrast, 'tsuzumi' can flexibly learn from medical record data, allowing it to read medical data recorded by doctors and place it in a common format for analysis. If electronic medical record data can be structured and analyzed with 'tsuzumi,' for example, effective treatment suited to each individual patient will become possible, and this will lead to the optimization of medical costs for society as a whole."

In his keynote speech, Mr. Shimada concluded: "NTT will continue to take on challenges for the sake of people and the Earth."

3) Featured Exhibits

Here is a brief report of the most noteworthy exhibits.

• Generative AI Large-scale Language Model: 'tsuzumi'

Image: • Generative AI Large-scale Language Model: 'tsuzumi'

'tsuzumi' is a large-scale language model (LLM) originally developed by NTT that is lightweight yet has world-class Japanese language processing performance.

In recent years, LLMs such as ChatGPT have been attracting attention, and are being used in various industries for input support, speech recognition, conversational text conversion, and automatic response. However, current LLMs require a large amount of electricity to learn, and computers with extremely fast computational speeds must be used.

The 'tsuzumi' LLM was developed to solve these problems and the model is so lightweight that it can be run on an ordinary notebook PC. It also has high language processing capability, and is the culmination of NTT Laboratories' more than 40 years of natural language processing research and world-class AI research capabilities.

'tsuzumi' has a variety of attractive features, including the ability to understand not only textual information but also accompanying materials such as graphs and icons, and to understand the user's situation and requirements, then provide optimal information. It is expected to solve many social issues.

Image: • Generative AI Large-scale Language Model: 'tsuzumi'

Large-scale language model (LLM) 'tsuzumi' Press Conference Preliminary Report:
https://group.ntt/jp/magazine/blog/tsuzumi/

• IOWN APN promotes solutions to social issues through remote operation of construction equipment

Image: • IOWN APN promotes solutions to social issues through remote operation of construction equipment

By utilizing the IOWN All-Photonics Network, which features high capacity, low latency, and fixed latency, construction equipment at actual construction sites can be easily operated from remote locations.

In recent years, the construction industry has been facing a serious labor shortage, long working hours, and an aging workforce. In addition, since an overtime cap is due to be applied in Japan from FY2024, there is a need domestically to reform work styles, such as improving work efficiency and diversifying employment opportunities.

This technology enables remote operators to more accurately grasp site conditions by transmitting on-site video and audio with low latency, making operation as easy as if they were working on site. It can also be applied to precision work in tight spaces in urban areas, thereby improving work efficiency and safety.

The new system will contribute to solving social issues such as the declining and aging of the workforce by eliminating the image of so-called "3K" (Kitsui, Kitanai, Kiken - Hard, Dirty, Dangerous) workplaces and promoting the business merits of the construction industry.

• Personalized Sound Zone

Image: • Personalized Sound Zone

PSZ (Personalized Sound Zone) technology is the ultimate private sound space that delivers only sounds you want to hear and does not deliver sounds you don't want to hear.

To realize a rich, human-centered society in which everyone can play an active role, it is essential to design a wide variety of sound environments that each individual desires. We need a personalization of the sound environment through the fusion of various technologies.

In addition to acoustic XR technology, which generates a new sound space by fusing real and cyber sounds, PSZ integrates active noise control technology, which blocks surrounding noise without blocking the user's ears, as well as desired sound selection technology, which allows only the sounds the user wants to pass through, depending on the situation. The technology blocks out unwanted sounds and creates a private sound space, where the user can clearly hear the sounds he/she wants to hear.

This technology enables the creation of a new sense of spatial acoustics in which the realistic sounds of the stage cross over with the sound effects in your ears, and the realization of new entertainment such as listening to the commentary of the performance through earphones while enjoying the orchestra performance.

We displayed a new feature at the R&D Forum: "Mammoth Rescue Mission! High Definition AR Game" allows multiple people to experience the game at the same time.

• Artificial photosynthesis

Image: • Artificial photosynthesis

Artificial photosynthesis is a technology that uses the energy of sunlight to convert and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2).

As efforts to decarbonize the world accelerate, the NTT Group is also promoting research and development for IOWN and decarbonization to become carbon neutral. As part of this effort, we are working on artificial photosynthesis technology using semiconductor photocatalysts and metal catalyst materials that can be operated for long periods of time to reduce CO2 emissions.

Previously, the focus was on generating hydrogen using water and solar energy and considering its use as clean energy. However, current research involves converting CO2 captured using water and solar energy, aiming to reduce CO2 emissions. NTT has developed a high-quality semiconductor photocatalyst with a unique protective layer, achieving a world-class lifespan. They have found a structure that efficiently converts CO2 in its gaseous form and have succeeded in converting a large amount of CO2. This technology, which reduces atmospheric CO2 using solar energy, contributes to mitigating climate change and helps in realizing a sustainable society.

• Experience riding together with athletes in a virtual space that recreates a bicycle race.

Image: • Experience riding together with athletes in a virtual space that recreates a bicycle race.

Media processing technology that makes possible the construction of XR* sports space, an ultra-realistic metaverse space that reproduces the space, time changes, and vibrations of a wide, outdoor environment in the virtual world to recreate the experience of the real world.

Virtual sports and e-sports are spreading as a new form of sports that utilize digital technology, but they have yet to reproduce the experience of the real world. That's why we are promoting research and development to create a virtual world that provides an experience equal to or better than the real world.

At the R&D Forum, we projected a 3D space created from video footage of a road race held in Utsunomiya City onto a screen and actual bicycles were displayed. The view on the screen changed as the rider pedaled the bicycle, and the scenery also changed as the rider turned the handlebars.

In the future, this technology will be used to allow visitors to participate in remote races from the comfort of their own homes.

*XR: Cross reality VR: Virtual reality AR: Augmented reality

• Measure space in real-time and reproduce it in another location from any perspective freely

Image: • Measure space in real-time and reproduce it in another location from any perspective freely

This is a technology that measures space in real-time and reproduces the space remotely using 3D point clouds.

Since point clouds can measure 3D space easily and accurately, they have been used mainly for infrastructure facility management and other applications until now. For example, it is now possible to freely view a space measured in real time from your favorite viewpoint at a concert or sporting event. Also, since it is possible to grasp the temporal differences in the three-dimensional shape of the space, it can be used for monitoring applications such as detecting abnormalities in the sloping surface of the ground and foreign objects on roads and in buildings, which are difficult to make out from video or photographs.

The picture above shows a 3D point cloud reproduced in real time on a monitor at the R&D Forum venue taken far away in Yokosuka. We held a demonstration at which the viewpoint in the 3D space could be freely moved using a controller.

4) The Future Envisioned by IOWN

Image: 4) The Future Envisioned by IOWN

We introduced the great potential of IOWN, the next-generation communication infrastructure in motion, at "NTT R&D FORUM 2023-IOWN ACCELERATION." By further accelerating this technology, NTT will continue to take on the challenge of realizing a sustainable world for people and for the Earth.

5) Related Links

NTT R&D FORUM 2023 - IOWN ACCELERATION
https://www.rd.ntt/e/forum/2023/Open other window

NTT's 'tsuzumi' large-scale language model
https://www.rd.ntt/e/research/LLM_tsuzumi.htmlOpen other window

Point Cloud Metaverse Construction Technology
https://www.rd.ntt/e/hil/category/arvr/metaverse/Open other window