她认为，在美国于20世纪80年代减少这个领域的研究工作之后，日本取得了领先地位。新井纪子是日本国立情报学研究所（National Institute of Informatics, NII）的数学教授，她说：“因为对人形机器人的执着梦想，日本无法放弃人工智能。在这里，许多聪明的年轻人都对人工智能感兴趣。与欧洲或美国不同，人工智能科学家在日本非常受人尊敬。”
新井纪子花了一年时间来研究人工智能的经济效益。2010年，她出版了一本书，阐述人工智能对办公室工作的影响。书名很简单：《电脑如何代替我们工作》（How Computers Can Take Our Jobs）。“我想知道人工智能能否创造更多的工作机会，又有多少白领的工作会在未来10年或者20年内被机器取代。就算这个比例只有10%，那也将会是一场大灾难。”言下之意，她认为人工智能在就业方面产生的经济影响将远远超出这个数字。新井纪子还思考了让机器和算法在工作场所取代人类（就像它们在交易场所取代人类一样）将会产生什么样的伦理后果。毕竟它们并不能真正明白自己到底在做什么。
Noriko Arai is not the first woman to spotlight the hazard that boys and their toys can present, and she won't be the last. Her concerns may well be merited. Japan, and possibly all industrialized societies, says this mathematician, is about to reap the unintended consequences of a mostly, but not exclusively, Japanese male obsession with creating artificial intelligent life.
She claims Japan obtained a lead in the field after the U.S. pulled back on research efforts in the 1980s. "The Japanese couldn't give up the dream of AI because of this persistent dream of humanoid robots," says Arai, who works as a professor of mathematics at Japan's National Institute of Informatics (NII). "There are lots of intelligent youngsters interested in AI here, and AI scientists, unlike in Europe or the U.S., are highly esteemed."
Japan has a long of history of friendliness towards robots. Yes, the Japanese cultural imagination has yielded its fair share of ruthless Terminator-style sci-fi robots, but many of them are human-like, friendly helpers like the comic character Doraemon. Japan also maintains a global lead in R&D on robotics. "Japan has successfully maintained its high patents rate and achieved rapid growth in the areas of speech recognition," says a report published recently on the subject by the British-Embassy-in-Japan's chief science officer.
Arai devoted a year to study the economic impact of artificial intelligence. She published a book in Japan in 2010 on AI's effects on office jobs titled simply "How Computers Can Take Our Jobs." "I wanted to know if we can get more jobs from AI [and] how much white-collar jobs will be replaced by machines in the next 10 to 20 years. If it is just 10% of such jobs, it will be a catastrophe," hinting that she expects the economic impact of AI on employment to be much larger than that. Arai also considered the ethical consequences of having machines and algorithms replace humans in the workplace -- as they have on the trading floor -- without really understanding how they work.
As market flash crashes have shown, Arai says AI machine learning is beyond human understanding and reasoning. "As with flash crashes, we will always have 20% incorrectness, which will harm our society. We can't understand machines and they don't understand us," she says. It is foolish to believe such machines will think like humans, she adds. Ultimately, we can't work out why they come up with correct answers or wrong answers.
Just because we program a machine using logic, that doesn't mean a machine will always follow logical rules to reach their outcomes. "In the case of AI machines, they are not like factory robots whose actions can be precisely explained by physics and science. This is a serious ethical problem," she points out.
Arai launched a project within NII to see just how far AI and machine learning could go in the near future. The aim is to build a robot that could pass the notoriously hard Tokyo University entrance exam. Known now as the Todai Robot project -- Tokyo University goes by the name "Todai" in Japanese -- Arai kicked off the first experiments two years ago, integrating the latest AI know-how to crack seemingly insurmountable problems. Unlike the general entrance exam in Japan, the rigorous Todai exam includes written essays. Her task has been eased, she says, by the respect AI receives in Japan.