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This Startup Just Built Japan’s Most Powerful Supercomputer

By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator

Preferred Networks is making changes in Japan. Over the past few years, this AI startup has raised more than $130M in venture funding and grown to more than 130 people. If you live outside of Japan, you might not have heard of this team, but they are working with Toyota to create the next generation of driverless cars. They are working with Japan's most advanced industrial robot manufacturers to improve efficiency. They are also working with many financial institutions on fraud detection. Oh yes, and they also built Japan's most powerful commercial supercomputer. Today we sit down and talk with Daisuke Okanohara, the technical co-founder of Preferred Networks. Daisuke and I talk about the story behind Preferred Networks, he also shares his challenges and current strategies for maintaining the company's experimental and engineering culture as it grows larger and more structured. Daisuke also talks about his time at Google, how Japanese AI stacks up to China and the US, and why he’s convinced that their biggest competition is going to come from somewhere you would never expect. It's a great discussion, and I think you'll enjoy it. Show Notes What edge-heavy computing is and why it's important How a Google Internship changed Daisuke's outlook on AI The future of driverless cars at Toyota Why the team decided to build Japan's most powerful supercomputer Why you can't sell disruptive products to large companies How to keep a curious spirit even as your company grows Where the real competition in AI will come from Links from the Founder Everything you ever wanted to know about Preferred Networks Check out their Homepage Follow them on Twitter @PreferredNet Check out Chainer Preferred Networks free open source AI library The core Chainer project PaintsChainer Cupy Chainer [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan's most successful entrepreneurs. I'm Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. Preferred Networks is without question the brightest star in the constellation of Japanese AI startups. It attracted about 130 million in venture funding and have grown to more than 130 people over the past few years. Of course, if you don't follow AI, you might not have heard about them at all but they are the technology behind Toyota’s driverless cars, some of FANUC’s industrial robots, many cutting-edge applications in other verticals, and as a side project, they also built Japan's most powerful commercial supercomputer. It's an interesting team to say the least and today, we sit down and talk with Daisuke Okanohara, Preferred Networks’ technical cofounder. We talk about how Preferred Networks got started and got to scale and he also shares his challenges and strategies of trying to maintain the company's experimental and engineering culture as it grows larger and monthly revenue pressures increase. Daisuke also talks about his time at Google, how Japanese AI stacks up to China and the US, and why he's convinced that their biggest competition is going to come from somewhere you would never expect it. But you know, Daisuke tells that story much better than I can, so let’s gets right to the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1411"  info_text="Sponsored by"  font_color="grey"  ] [Interview] Tim: So I'm sitting here with Daisuke Okanohara, the cofounder and Executive Vice President of Preferred Networks, Japan's leading and probably most innovative AI startup. So thanks for sitting down with me today. Daisuke: Thank you very much. Tim: So Preferred Networks talks a lot about the importance of edge -heavy computing. So can you explain exactly what edge-heavy computing is and why it's important? Daisuke: Cloud computing is one of the most important trends in the IT area and most people believe that most computations or operations sho...

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