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January 20, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

One reason that Japan doesn’t – yet – suffer the levels of unemployment that are widespread in Europe, particularly in the UK where an atypically high number of women seek employment is that women who do work are largely confined to secretarial, retail and decorative jobs – but even some of those may soon be taken away from them: Hitachi Software Engineering has started development work on a robot secretary that will respond to natural language enquiries; designed for office work – its first task will be Japanese meeting scheduling, the system is composed of Hitachi’s 2050 workstation, plus its B-16 personal computer for Japanese language input, and the thing is programmed in Hitachi’s KonoLisp dialect of Lisp; the natural language interface will be provided by a 6,000 to 10,000 word vocabulary, and it will never have to stay home to look after its sick mother, forget to remind you of your wife’s birthday – or indulge in the lively banter that makes office life tolerable.

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