Activities in FY2021

Our activities in Fiscal Year 2021 (from April 2021 to March 2022 — the sixth year) include educational and R&D businesses, implemented according to our policy for FY2021.

Educational Business

The goal of our educational business is to help people who conduct research on the WBA approach on a long-term basis.  In FY2021, WBAI held the sixth WBA symposium, two WBA seminars, and two WBA lectures (in Japanese).  Videos of the paid WBA seminars are distributed on Vimeo for a fee, and those from free events are distributed on YouTube.

The Sixth WBA Symposium

The symposium was held (in Japanese) online on September 10, 2021 with the theme of “Toward Brain-inspired AI Coexisting with Humans” with speakers Masahiko Inami (The University of Tokyo), Takehiro Ohya (Keio University), Satoshi Kurihara (Keio University) and discussion with Koichi Takahashi (RIKEN, WBAI) and Hiroshi Yamakawa (WBAI).  There were also presentations by Hiroshi Yamakawa and Naoya Arakawa (both WBAI).

It was organized by WBAI and supported by MEXT “Brain information dynamics underlying multi-area interconnectivity and parallel processing.”

In the symposium, Ayako Fukawa was conferred the WBA Incentive Awards with her engagement in establishing the SCID method for BRA construction, and awards for Meritorious Service were presented to Naoyuki Sakai for his contributions to media/public relations, marketing planning, and regular reporting to supporting members, and to Satoshi Ueno for his contributions to the WBA Seminars Executive Committee (formerly known as the Supporters), by founding it and serving for it as chair.

WBA Seminars

In FY2021, WBAI held two seminars (in Japanese) with the following themes and speakers.

  • 32nd Seminar: May 26, 2021, Cognitive Development and Developmental Disorders Based on General Principles of the Brain
    with Yukie Nagai and Shin’ichiro Kumagai (both from The University of Tokyo)
  • 33rd Seminar: June 25, 2021, Is Biologically Plausible Agent Interaction Promising? – Prospects for Intelligence Research from HAI and WBA
    with Masahiko Osawa (Nihon University), Takafumi Sakamoto (Shizuoka University), and Yoshimasa Tawatsuji (Waseda University)

WBA Lectures

  • 2nd Lecture: June 13, 2021, Let’s Run Memory Architecture Imitating the Brain!
    Naoya Arakawa (WBAI), Yuki Onodera
  • 3rd Lecture: November 17, 2021, Experiences in building a brain-inspired machine learning model: on what scaffold was a hippocampus-like probabilistic generative model built?
    Ayako Fukawa (WBAI), Akira Taniguchi (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Yoshimasa Tawatsuji (Waseda Univ.), Hiroshi Yamakawa (WBAI)

The Fifth WBA Hackathon — Beyond ‘now and here’ —

Between May and October 2021, an online hackathon was held together with Cerenaut, WBAI’s partner, to create a whole-brain architecture agent that solves tasks with working memory.

R&D Business

The goal of our R&D business is to support research activities in the WBA approach.

Brain Reference Architecture (BRA) Driven Development

BRA-driven development is a methodology for building AGI in the whole-brain architecture approach, allowing hypotheses to be built on a relatively wide range of brain functions that are not necessarily obvious. WBAI has been promoting research and development of brain-inspired AGI through BRA-driven development since FY 2018.

BRA-driven development uses the Brain Information Flow (BIF) diagrams based on the mesoscopic anatomical structure of the brain related to human cognitive behavior, and hypothetical component diagrams (HCDs), which describe computational functions consistent with the BIF (see the figure below).

Currently, we are working on BRA evaluation methods, BIF creation from connectome, development of a BRA description environment, BRA creation, HCD integration, and implementation of brain-inspired software, each of which is described in the following sections. The projects financially supported by the MEXT project “Brain information dynamics underlying multi-area interconnectivity and parallel processing.” are described as (BID).Figure 1: Brain Reference Architecture (BRA) -driven Development

BRA Evaluation Methodology

BIF data need tests to ensure the credibility of their projection information.  For such a method is not available at this stage, we attempted to create data to evaluate the credibility, and found that the data creation takes approximately 1 hour per projection (BID). We also systematized concepts in BRA-driven development.

BIF Creation from Connectomes

Since we are aiming for human-like AGI, it is desirable to use human connectomes in describing the BIF for the basis for BRA-driven development.  However, we have to use information from other animals for anatomical information that is not available in the human brain, and so decided to create “SHCOM” connectome as defined below.  In FY2021, we conducted a basic survey to collect connectomic information on humans and other mammals in order to create a neocortical SHCOM (BID).

Supplemented Human Connectome with Other Mammals’ (SHCOM)
SHCOM is the most probable hypothesis about connections between brain regions at the mesoscopic level, the (average) number of axons, their directions, and in the neocortex, the feedback/feedforward directions, for the human brain.

Development of BRA description environment

From the viewpoint of efficient data production by BRA design projects working together in the future, we investigated the current workflow and proposed improvements, especially in the BIF creation process and its deliverables.  We also created a validation script for BRA data written by the creator of the BRA (BID).

BRA creation

We created BIFs for the cerebellum, eye movements, the claustrum,  conscious architecture, and speech-language segmentation. 

HCD integration

Once BRAs for various brain areas are constructed, HCDs are described on the master BIF. So, it is necessary to integrate the HCDs into a consistent HCD for the entire brain, to construct the Whole Brain Reference Architecture (WBRA).  In FY2021, this issue was pointed out and studies toward the construction of the WBRA were initiated.

Implementation of brain-inspired software

As the whole brain BRA is not complete, it is not possible to directly implement WBA as a system.  Meanwhile, we are conducting a brain-inspired software implementation in advance to make trials, evaluate, and determine the underlying framework and models, to confirm the feasibility of software development from HCD, and to further examine the biological plausibility of the software (BID).

As an application of BriCA, a general-purpose software platform for cognitive computing, we have implemented a combined learner consisting of models of the neocortex and basal ganglia loops (BID).

In a verification implementation of software design based on HCD, we found that the difficulty for implementers of selecting computational models and that information such as the coordinate system to use, dimensions, and time constants is often lacking in current HCD (BID).

Collaborating with local research groups (R&D promotion)

WBAI has been collaborating with other organizations to develop research infrastructure such as software to support research using the WBA approach. In FY2021, we conducted collaborative activities in the following research and development. In particular, we developed the concept of the Whole Brain Probabilistic Generative Model (WB-PGM) in collaboration with the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Correspondence and Fusion of Artificial Intelligence and Brain Science” and published a paper.

Activities to make AGI Beneficial

Because of the potentially large impacts of AGI on humankind, we are conducting activities to make it beneficial, safe, and democratized.

WBAI Activities and Volunteering

WBAI activities such as WBA seminars have been conducted with non-paid volunteers including regular members, except for a paid part-time worker at the secretariat.

Financial Statements for FY2021

The balance sheet and cash flow for FY2021 are presented below (Table 1 and Table 2).

The revenues were 1.80 million yen and the expenditure totaled 0.81 million yen for administration and 1.30 million yen for operation (total expenditure was 2.11 million yen to yield 0.31 million yen deficit).

The businesses of WBAI have been financially supported by supporting members.  (As of March 2022, there were nine supporting members consisting of enterprises and individuals.)  The other incomes include fees from the participants of the WBA seminars.

Honoraria were paid to the speakers of the WBA Seminars.  The subcontractor/outsourcing expenses for operation includes the cost of R&D,  which was mostly carried out with the budget of exterior research institutions.  Prize was paid to the awardee of the WBA Incentive Award.

The expenses for secretariat personnel (shown in Subcontracting/outsourcing Expenses) were apportioned by 50% (50/50) for operating and administrative expenses.  The remuneration was paid to an accountant office.  The rent for the office was free of charge by courtesy of Garm Inc.

Table 1: Balance Sheet (as of March 31, 2022)

Items Amount (JPY)

 

 

 

 

Assets  
1. Current Assets  
Cash and Saving Account 8,836,959
Total Current Assets 8,836,959
Total Assets 8,836,959

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liabilities  
1. Current Liabilities  
Advance Received 400,000
Withholding Taxes 6,126
Total Current Liabilities 406,126
Total Liabilities 406,126

 

 

 

 

Net Assets  
Retained Net Assets at the Beginning of Period 8,739,608
Net assets variation -308,775
Total Net Assets 8,430,833
Total Liabilities and Net Assets 8,836,959

 

Table 2: Cash Flow

Items Amount (JPY)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recurring Revenues  
Fees  
Fees from Regular Members 180,000
Fees from Supporting Members 1,520,000
Total Fees 1,700,000
Other Revenues  
Interest Income 73
Other Income 98,374
Total Recurring Revenues 1,798,447

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ordinary Expenses  
Operating Expenses  
Total Personnel Expenses 180,55
Other Expenses  
Honoraria 154,000
Subcontractor/outsourcing Expenses 737,000
Communication 175,023
Prizes/Awards 50,000
Other 1,564
Total Other Expenses 1,117,587
Total Operating Expenses 1,608,453
Administrative Expenses  
Total Personnel Expenses 0
Other Expenses  
Subcontractor/Outsourcing Expenses 528,000
Remuneration 264,000
Other 17,082
Total Other Expenses 809,082
Total Administrative Expenses 809,082
Total Ordinary Expenses 2,107,222
  Net Assets Variation of the Year -308,775
Net Asset brought forward 8,739,608
Net Asset carried forward 8,430,833