Public Institute in Japan Develops AI Capable of Simultaneous Interpretation; Technology to Be Used at 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo

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Words reading “Artificial intelligence AI,” miniature of robot and toy hand are pictured in this illustration taken Dec. 14, 2023.

A Tokyo-based public research institute under the jurisdiction of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has developed an artificial intelligence capable of simultaneous interpretation with a natural conversational flow, it has been learned.

The AI developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) will be used at the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo.

The government is expected to use the technology for international negotiations that deal with highly confidential information by around 2030.

In simultaneous interpretation at summit talks and other occasions, interpreters begin translating from the middle of a speaker’s remarks. The workload is heavy, and there is only a small group of simultaneous interpreters for Japanese and English in Japan.

With the cooperation of simultaneous interpreters, NICT had the AI learn the timing of when interpreters start translations from a vast amount of text data. Combined with a glossary of terminology and other information, NICT developed an AI capable of simultaneous bidirectional interpretation in five languages — Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and French.

Google LLC of the United States and other companies are focusing their efforts on the development of AI translation technology, but there is a risk of information leakage if foreign technology is used and there has been a demand for the practical application of domestic AI for economic security reasons.

NICT will increase the number of languages handled by this AI technology to 15 by the end of this fiscal year. The technology will be used during lectures and seminars to be held at the expo next year and will be displayed on screens at the expo as well as on participants’ PCs and other devices.

A system that will incorporate this AI is being developed by a Tokyo-based company that is part of the TOPPAN Holdings Inc. group.