April 7, 2022
TOKYO – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to use artificial intelligence to better assess international situations, building an AI-based system to collect and analyze large amounts of information online.
The ministry intends to use the system to identify unstable international situations early on, for purposes such as protecting Japanese nationals, and to detect attempts to spread false information. A data analytics contractor is to be selected by this summer, with the system expected to go live as early as January 2023.
The envisioned system will automatically search and collect foreign data from the Internet, including social media posts, reports from research institutes and media reports. Deep learning and other technologies would produce analytics under the direction of the ministry.
For example, by examining information indicating the spread of emotions such as anger and grief, the system would detect signs of escalating situations, including acts of terrorism and uprisings.
The system will complement the collection of human intelligence by Japanese overseas diplomatic establishments and other organizations. The aim is to enable rapid decision-making by combining the analysis of huge amounts of information, a process that humans cannot undertake, with the results of human intelligence operations.
To establish and operate the system, the ministry plans to inject about 640 million yen over a five-year period starting this fiscal year. Government officials said similar methods had already been introduced in countries including the United States, Britain and China.
One of the challenges will be how to ensure accurate analyses, as the internet is filled with misinformation – a situation exemplified by Russia publishing misinformation about its invasion of Ukraine.
The ministry will operate the system cautiously in its early stages, comparing analytical results with what actually happens and working to improve its accuracy.
By analyzing in detail the unnatural dissemination of information, the ministry seeks to become capable of judging the authenticity of information and identifying sources of false reports.
A worsening of the international situation could threaten Japan’s economic security and trigger international conflicts. Through the proposed system, the government hopes to better detect national security risks.