Entrusting the Future of
Tuna Examination to AI.

Tuna is one of the ocean’s greatest treasures
and Japan has long been home to artisans
who have mastered the skill of tuna examination.
Although scarce in number, these master artisans
have historically played a vital role
in upholding the culinary traditions revolving around this fish.
It is a tacit skill acquired by years of experience and individual intuition
that allows artisans to determine properties
such as the flavor, freshness and texture of a tuna just by eye.
Today, the number of successors of this craft are dwindling,
so we decided to pass the torch to AI.
We want to ensure that people around the world can
enjoy the same standard of delicious tuna,
even into the far future.

The Secrets to a
Tuna’s Flavor are
Hidden in the Tail.

The cross section of a tuna’s tail is a road map detailing an intricate story about its overall quality. Master tuna merchants will examine things like the color and sheen, firmness, and the layering of fat, and through a process forged by experience and intuition, instantly determine the quality of a given fish. This artisinal skill has been the primary determiner of tuna market prices at Japanese fish markets for years.

Inheriting the Disappearing Legacy
of Tuna Examiners.

“No matter how talented someone may be, it takes at least ten years to be able to do this by yourself.” Quality examination is a tacit skill that is cultivated from years of training, and each practitioner has their own unique tried and true methods. The number of master artisans, who can judge the quality of fish with their highly trained eyes, has fallen to less than half of the industry’s golden age. In the near future, it’s feared that there will be no successors to carry on the occupation.

PROJECT

We created TUNA SCOPE* - an AI-based system that instantaneously determines the quality of a given tuna based on the cross section of its tail. Through deep learning, bulks of cross-sectional tail images, and data on quality assessments conducted by master artisans, we successfully passed on this sophisticated Japanese skill to the AI system. By doing so, we made it possible to assess the quality of tuna anywhere in the world, simultaneously, with remarkable accuracy.

1

The Development of TUNA SCOPE

Yaizu is one of Japan's major base ports for tuna and pelagic fishery. Here, we took cross-sectional photographs of the tuna tails from the port's impressive landings and recorded them in a database along with quality ratings on a five-level scale given by master examiners with 35 years experience. Using deep learning, we taught the AI the unexplainable nuances and secrets of the tuna examination craft, enabling it to successfully master the skill unassisted. This was the birth of a new successor to the tuna examination tradition that can be utilized around-the-clock.

2

Introducing TUNA SCOPE to Facilities
In and Out of Japan

The AI system was mounted in a smartphone app and introduced to the frozen tuna inspection process at Japan's fish processing facilities in Yaizu and Misaki as well as Dalian, China. We tested the app’s accuracy in Dalian by comparing it to the results of real master examiners, revealing that approximately 90% of the app's results were consistent with its human counterparts. With the help of an AI system capable of instantly determining the quality of a given tuna from cross-sectional tail image data, the Japanese craft of tuna examination has reached across borders, delivering results that are as precise as ever.

3

Three Cities Around the World
Get a Taste of AI-Certified Tuna

In 2019, the tuna that was ranked highest in quality by the AI system went on to become its own brand named “AI Tuna”. Customers were served this new brand of tuna at sushi train restaurants around Tokyo, and the project gained much national and international attention. In February 2020, the TUNA SCOPE Certification Mark was rolled out and AI tuna sales began in three cities - New York, Singapore and Tokyo. Quality assured, AI-certified tuna was served to people throughout the world.

4

TUNA SCOPE Goes Global
In a Promotion Program for Seafood
Supported by the Government of Japan

In March 2020, an export business utilizing TUNA SCOPE was adopted by Fisheries Agency of Japan encouraging to export Japanese Seafood. High-quality tuna examined and endorsed by TUNA SCOPE is now on its way to being available all over the world. Through AI-based examinations, we are not only aiming to establish a fair world standard for tuna quality but are also setting out to create a world where everyone will have access to a stable supply of delicious tuna.

FUTURE

Transcending Industries -
Artisan Skills in the Hands of AI

The knowledge accumulated by the AI-based technology through the development of TUNA SCOPE has untapped potential for applications across a wide variety of industries and academic disciplines. By teaching AI the secrets and wisdoms required to perform the tasks humans have passed down over the years from eye to eye, we may gain a new ally against a host of problems that humanity faces today. That future might be closer than we think.

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