Local Kyoto Town Mascot ‘Seika Kyomachi’ Gets Artificial Intelligence

Seika, a town located in the southern part of the Kyoto Prefecture, has a mascot anime girl character named Seika Kyomachi. The mascot is notable for employing various technological innovations in her mission to spread information about the town; she became a Voiceroid character in 2016, her 3D data is open source, and in July she became a Virtual YouTuber. Her latest foray is into artificial intelligence, which would allow her to respond to queries in real-time.

The “Narikiri AI” (Impersonation AI) project is a collaboration between the city of Seikai and NTT Communication Science Laboratories. The AI will be developed by taking feedback from a small group of users who are knowledgeable about the town and the mascot; they provide sample questions and answers, as well as vote on responses that sound the most in-character for the mascot. The town office will provide extensive information about the town and administrative details so that she can respond comprehensively to relevant questions.

The artificial intelligence will be implemented in November. The town’s official website is collecting information from residents about the local area until the end of September.

“It is a unique opportunity to put the technology to use,” said Takeshi Yamada, director of NTT Communication Science Laboratories.

Seika Kyomachi debuted in 2013. Her role is not just to encourage tourism to the local area but to spread awareness of the hometown tax system, which allows Japanese taxpayers who live in urban areas to contribute money to rural areas to get their income tax and residence tax reduced. Her catchphrase is “I will erase the hometown tax deficit!”

Sources: Asahi ShimbunVocaSphere

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