Furniture Production and 3D Data

CNC Machines and a Zebra

When I first saw CNC machines working at our factory, what came up to my mind was a zebra. To be more precise, the machines reminded me of a sense of superiority to AI that I had when knowing that AI couldn’t recognize a zebra. This was one of the biggest problems AI had, but I later learned it had already been solved by 3D CG data, and my sense of superiority soon turned to that of awe, though.

The product development team scanned the prototype and transferred the data to the CNC machine.

Symbol Grounding Problem

This is the name of the problem propounded by Professor Stevan Harnad, though it is sometimes called “a zebra problem” from the example of a zebra he made. With cameras installed, AI has come to process visual information, but it couldn’t recognize a zebra because the verification data that AI had were character string data. Let’s say a zebra is defined in the data: “a horse with stripes.” Even if we’ve never seen a zebra before, we can recognize a zebra only with the definition, but AI can’t because the definition is just a set of 17 characters for AI. The core of the problem is: AI can store and process a lot of data, much more and faster than us, but none of them makes sense to AI.

Innovation Made by 3D Data

Now, the image processing algorithm of AI verifies visual information with its stored 3D data, and recognizes a zebra from its shape and surface pattern, though AI can’t understand the meaning of any data the same as before. This innovation has also improved our furniture production. CNC machines work according to numerical data each of which we had to input, but now, computer calculates it out from 3D data created by scanning prototypes as shown in the above image. However, our production doesn’t get much easier because there’s no margin for error in placing parts in the CNC machine, for example. Expert skills are still required.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

Leave a Reply