The company has another possible advantage: Kutaragi, who is often referred to as the “Father of PlayStation.”
Launched in 1994, the gaming console spawned a product line that has sold over 525 million units. Sony’s gaming division has been instrumental in solidifying its earnings recovery in recent years.
Kutaragi retired in 2011 as president and group chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment, now called Sony Interactive Entertainment. He has since been involved with several Japanese companies, including his own AI research lab, Cyber Ai Entertainment.
“Working with Ascent Robotics is an exciting opportunity because AI technology is evolving quickly now,” Kutaragi told CNBC.
As a young engineer who joined Sony in 1975, “we watched films like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and it was a very romantic idea of AI but these days it’s becoming real,” he said.
Kutaragi said that, in the 1990s, he wanted to create a new industry by making video games that would appeal to both young people and adults. He said he sees similarities in creating an industry for self-driving vehicles today, in that they’ll have to gain mainstream social acceptance.
“Current games use many AI engines for generating characters, behavior, physics and other things,” Kutaragi noted. “I think we’re only at the beginning of seeing AI trying to understand human behavior, hearing conversation, reading documents as a learning system like a baby listening to its mother talking.”
He said games can generate graphics and sound, “but real AI can act like a sponge and take everything in. In the future, many AIs will communicate with each other over networks.”