Via Science’s CEO Colin Gounden traveled to Taiwan and Japan in February to meet with several energy and heavy industry companies. While in Tokyo, Colin sat down with journalists Takashi Nishioka and Yuichi Shiga from The Nikkei, Japan’s leading subscription-based business and economic news publication. The article is available only to subscribers, so below we’ve translated the Q&A session that was published as part of the larger article.
How do you use artificial intelligence (AI) in the electric power business?
“Via Science is not trying to solve brand new problems in electric power, but rather solve problems that all electric power companies have today. For example, power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities all invest heavily in equipment updates. We can make the analysis of where to invest much more efficient and rigorous.”
Can humans accept what AI has judged?
“People accept AI suggestions when they understand the reasoning behind why the computer made a specific recommendation. Very recent AI advances have allowed computers to understand cause and effect relationships of data points directly from the data. These cause and effect relationships provide transparency into why a computer has made a recommendation. When an AI generated recommendation is transparent, people are more easily convinced. AI recommendations are not always 100% correct, but neither are people. It’s important to set the expectation that the goal of AI is not perfection but rather that AI and people together will have fewer mistakes than either alone.”
Do you think that TEPCO’s problems can be improved as well?
“TEPCO is a big company and there are many potential opportunities for AI throughout the generation, transmission, and distribution business, so we have to discuss priorities. A major area of focus for us is to reduce the costs related to the upgrade and replacement of facilities.”
How will the new Trump administration affect the electric power business?
“In the U.S. presidential election, then candidate Trump and candidate Clinton had very different opinions on almost everything. Perhaps the only area that they did agree on was that investment in power transmission and distribution was necessary, and investment would be continued.”
NOTE: The original interview was conducted in Japanese with answers provided in English through a translator. The final article was published in Japanese only, and we have translated that back to English. We have stayed true to the initial intent of the Q&A and apologize for any mis-translations.