Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Experimental AI solution in Japan parliament

Japan government is planning to realize an AI solution in the parliament.

According to the media, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will do an experiment to make an AI program write the documents read by lawmakers responding to the question in the parliament.

UPI: Japan exploring use of artificial intelligence for nation's parliament

In the parliament, some politicians, mainly belonging to an opposing party, are given an opportunity to make questions to a member of the cabinet or relevant government officials for clarifying the intention of the government which is planning a new legislation. Persons who received questions have to reply them immediately. If they fail to make an appropriate answer, opposing parties will pursue the problems in the government policy or the new bill submitted by the government. Through such discussion, members of the parliament consider whether the new bill is valid and beneficial to the nation. Thus, the discussion in the parliament is crucial to examine the new policies.

For fluent and efficacious discussion, the summary of the questions is notified to the government before the day of the discussion. Government officials arrange the document for the presenter in advance. It includes prompts of each answer and relevant data explaining the current situation and the new policy.

However, in my experience belonged to the government for two years a decade ago, many questions asked by lawmakers are stereotyped. For example, how many numbers of people are subjected to the new scheme of official aid?” Answering these questions is not difficult; simply with referring the statistical data. Also, many politicians make the same questions repeatedly which had been replied in the past. Thus, originality is not required in creating the answer document. Rather, consistency with the evident data is prioritized. And, AI is superior to humans in this topic.

The government is eager to reduce the tasks of officials which could be omitted for the optimal working style. The utilization of AI in the parliament is one of the attempts for relaxing officials. Indeed, I sometimes had to work through midnight for preparing the draft paper of answering questions for the minister. If this task is automated, several officials will be relieved from staying at the government office all-night.

On the other hand, the success of this project will mean that a considerable amount of tasks in the government can be altered to other non-skilled labors or even an AI program. It is consistent with my sense. It is generally recognized that the productivity of Japanese people is relatively low among developed countries. Though it is doubtful Japanese are all less efficacious at work, I believe there are several examples of wasting time and resource in the Japanese workplace. For example, when I purchase some materials for my research, I am often requested by the financial section to send the money on my own to the bank of the seller. After that, I will get refunded from the financial section. But, is it truly my task to make a payment? I could write another academic paper instead of writing the money transfer form.

I think the challenge of the government is very ambitious and sensational. It looks symbolic and even ironic. I admire the decision of the manager of this project. And I hope this attempt will be successful and result in reduced working time of government officials.

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