Hitachi is developing an artificial intelligence (AI) system to support logical dialogue, presenting for and against arguments [PDF] related to certain areas of contention.

The software takes a topic for debate in areas such as health, economics and public safety, and scans tens of millions of news articles in a matter of seconds to generate reasons in favour and against the idea without bias.

In an example demonstration the system was asked whether the casino ban in Japan should be lifted. The programme produced pro-ban arguments such as gambling addiction and crime, and anti-ban considerations including job creation and economic stimulation.

The system first establishes the theme of the question and gathers related news articles, before identifying specific paragraphs describing reasons for and against the issue. The software then compiles and organises the text into both positions.

According to Hitachi, as more data becomes available the system will be increasingly able to cover a wider variety of controversial issues. The company suggests that if more detailed patient information and medical research is fed into the AI system, the programme could aid in surgical decisions. Similarly electronic data on mechanical parts and routine checks could support manufacturers in deciding whether to replace old machinery. Hitachi emphasised that the final decision remains the job of the human individual.

The technology includes systems which arrange and value words according to their effect on a value. For example, in analysing ‘health’, words such as ‘exercise’ are ranked as having a positive effect on the value, while ‘disease’ and ‘obesity’ are identified as having a negative effect.

The system is being developed by Hitachi in collaboration with the Inui-Okazaki Laboratory at the Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University. In the future the team hopes to increase processing speeds, using parallel distributed processing of algorithms and executing asynchronous processing in order to produce logical reasoning within tighter time periods.

The programme currently runs in English-language, but Hitachi hopes to launch a Japanese version later this year.