- Title: Japanese AI scopes out choice tuna cuts for the best sushi
- Date: 3rd July 2020
- Summary: SHIMURA (RIGHT) AND ISHII (LEFT) CHECKING TUNA TAIL SECTION ISHII TOUCHING TUNA TAIL SECTIONS ISHII'S EYES WATCHING TUNA TAIL SECTIONS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TUNA BUYER AT MISAKI MEGUMI SUISAN, SHINGO ISHII, SAYING: "How it (tuna tail sections) looks like can be totally different depending on the weather of each day, or lighting. From this point, I think machines, AI may be more stable (than humans)."
- Embargoed: 17th July 2020 10:39
- Keywords: Artificial Intelligence Dentsu Japan Misaki Megumi Suisan Tuna Scope fish market sushi tuna
- Location: MIURA & TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: MIURA & TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA003CL9APGB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:If you've ever bought supermarket sushi, you may know the taste trauma that hit Kazuhiro Shimura one night. But "disappointing" tuna sparked an idea: he'd develop an artificial intelligence (AI) system to make sure your sashimi is always delicious.
Shimura, a director at advertising firm Dentsu Group's Future Creative Center, came up with the concept for "Tuna Scope" AI as he chewed his raw dish while watching a television show on fish merchants who spend a decade mastering the skill of selecting high-quality tuna for sushi restaurants.
Using a deep learning algorithm to crunch through grading data from merchants, Tuna Scope has now evolved into a smartphone app. Clients can download and use it anywhere, creating "a unified grading standard" for an industry that relies on local know-how, said Shimura, who is working with Japanese trading company Sojitz Corp. to promote his technology.
In 2019, Dentsu held a campaign in a sushi restaurant to promote tuna graded by Tuna Scope, branding it as "AI-tuna" and served to customers. Shimura recalled customers' initial reaction to the sushi was a bit sceptical, "but once they eat the tuna, which was properly graded by AI as good quality, they said tasty and enjoyed it," he said.
"Grading standards of tuna vary greatly from place to place. And the important purpose of Tuna Scope project is to create a unified benchmark of grading by using AI so that people all over the world can eat good tuna," Shimura told Reuters at fish merchant Misaki Megumi Suisan, which ships AI-certified tuna overseas.
The highest quality fish - which can each weigh around 300 kilogrammes - have sold for more than $3 million in past tuna auctions. According to the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries, around 2 million tons of tuna is consumed around the world annually, of which Japan accounts for a quarter.
Since the start of coronavirus pandemic fish merchants from the Maldives, Spain, the United States, Taiwan and elsewhere have contacted Shimura about Tuna Scope because travel curbs mean they can't visit suppliers to check tuna quality, he said.
At Misaki Megumi near Tokyo, one of the merchant's buyers Shingo Ishii held a smartphone with Tuna Scope over a tray of tuna tail sections on a metal tray as other workers used industrial saws to cut up frozen tuna shipped from around the world. The AI delivered a result within a few seconds.
"How it (tuna tail sections) looks like can be totally different depends on the weather of each day, or lighting. From this point, I think machines, AI may be more stable (than human)," said Ishii.
Ishii admitted to mixed feelings about a technology that could make his job easier, but threatened to make a skill passed down through generations obsolete.
"It's been 17 years (since I became a buyer) but there are still things to learn for me. So at this point, I feel a bit sad."
(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Tim Kelly, Hideto Sakai)
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