Harnessing the Power of AI to Redefine Medicine and Beyond

With a master's in physics from Waseda University and a Ph.D. in computer science from UCLA, Masaki Nakada has dedicated more than a decade to biomechanical human simulation research. In 2019, he founded NeuralX, Inc, leveraging the IP developed from his extensive research. NeuralX offers an online fitness service utilizing motion analytics AI and fish analytics AI to optimize fish farm operations. His lifetime goal as a researcher is to achieve general intelligence. He uses the biomimetic way (applying the principles of biology, physics, and neuroscience) in implementing the neural network and biomechanical system, an approach he refers to as “3D Generative AI for Data Synthesis.” One of his examples is the biomimetic way of implementation of human vision, which includes retinal processing and visual pathways, as well as the structure of the visual cortex. Dr. Nakada has also worked on the musculoskeletal body simulation with the neural network inspired by the structural design of the human motor cortex. His commitment to blending rigorous scientific principles with cutting-edge technology heralds a new era in the fields of medicine, virtual reality, and beyond. His accolades include the MIT Technology Review Innovator Award Under 35 and Forbes Next 1000.


IROHA: Please tell us about your past work, projects, or initiatives. 

Dr. Nakada: My journey through the realms of academia and industry innovation can be described as relentless pursuit and visionary ambition. I’ve contributed to the field of biomechanical simulations and pioneered practical applications of this research in the commercial sector. My research work, particularly the patent “DEEP LEARNING OF BIOMIMETIC SENSORIMOTOR CONTROL FOR BIOMECHANICAL MODEL ANIMATION,” has been instrumental in the development of NeuralX, Inc.’s groundbreaking products. This research has facilitated the creation of ultra-realistic simulations of human and animal musculoskeletal systems, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in both fitness and aquaculture technologies.

The evolution of NeuralX's flagship product from Presence.fit to Toned.ai represents a quantum leap in online fitness, transitioning from human-guided sessions to fully AI-generated class creation and narration, leveraging generative AI and speech synthesis. This underscores my commitment to merging my research insights with user-centric product development, enhancing the levels of personalization and interactivity in the digital fitness experience.

Toned.ai intro from NeuralX on Vimeo.


IROHA: What projects are you currently working on?

Dr. Nakada: In the aquaculture sector, NeuralX's Nereus platform showcases my research through its predictive analytics feature. By accurately forecasting feed requirements, disease risks, and growth patterns, Nereus not only optimizes operational efficiencies but also champions environmental sustainability. This is achieved by reducing the carbon footprint of aquaculture operations, minimizing pollution through controlled feeding and chemical treatments, and embodying my vision for a more sustainable future in fish farming.

My research and development work represent a bridge between rigorous academic inquiry and practical, industry-changing innovations. The diverse products we’ve created at NeuralX reflect our understanding of the complex interplay between technology, biology, and environmental stewardship. NeuralX continues to explore the frontiers of technology, setting new benchmarks for sustainability and efficiency in both the fitness and aquaculture industries.

IROHA: What projects you are planning to work on in the future?

Dr. Nakada: My future work continues to chart a pioneering path through the uncharted territories of artificial life simulation, with a steadfast commitment to fidelity to the principles of biology, neuroscience, and physics. At the heart of my vision lies the ambitious goal of achieving high-fidelity human simulation, a venture that promises to revolutionize medical applications and propel the development of the metaverse. My research is deeply rooted in the biomimetic implementation of human vision—including retinal processing, visual pathways, and the intricate structure of the visual cortex.

At the same time, I’m dedicated to mirroring the complexity and elegance of human physiology through my work on musculoskeletal body simulation, guided by the neural network architecture inspired by the human motor cortex.

Looking ahead, I aim to expand upon these foundational pillars, diving deeper into the synthesis of advanced computational models and biological systems. My future projects will focus on refining the simulation of human sensory experiences, enhancing the realism and interactivity of virtual environments. This will involve developing more sophisticated models of neural networks that not only replicate but also predict human motor functions and sensory processing with unprecedented accuracy.

In the medical sphere, I envision leveraging high-fidelity simulations to create virtual patient models for surgical training, personalized medicine, and the development of new therapeutic strategies. These models will provide invaluable insights into the nuances of human anatomy and physiology, offering a risk-free platform for testing and innovation.

Furthermore, in the realm of the metaverse, my work promises to contribute significantly to the creation of immersive virtual experiences that are indistinguishable from reality. By incorporating my simulations into virtual environments, users will be able to experience lifelike interactions, enhancing both the utility and enjoyment of virtual worlds.

I hope to continue to break new ground; I want my contributions to redefine the boundaries of what's possible in artificial life simulation. Through my research, I am not just envisioning the future; I am actively shaping it, paving the way for advancements that will benefit humanity in myriad ways.

IROHA: What has been your experience with Asian hate, and based on that experience, have you been involved with any organization or activism to address the problem?

Dr. Nakada: My perspective on the issue of anti-Asian sentiment, particularly heightened around the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, comes from a place of observation rather than direct involvement or activism. Despite not experiencing significant personal incidents, the atmosphere during this period was undeniably tense, especially amid reports that the virus was associated with Asia.

This time was marked by distressing events, including attacks on Asian-owned shops and a friend of mine being targeted with eggs simply because of her Asian identity—incidents that occurred in Los Angeles. Similarly, in New York City, there were numerous accounts of Asians facing assaults in public spaces, painting a grim picture of the situation through news reports. Living in metropolitan areas like LA and NYC, where diversity is typically celebrated, my personal experiences with racial hostility have been limited. However, this does not diminish the broader issue of discrimination that persists globally, transcending beyond just anti-Asian prejudice.

The root of the problem lies in a mentality that fails to recognize our collective humanity, irrespective of race. It's imperative to embrace the idea that we are all inhabitants of Earth, sharing its resources and coexisting as part of a larger ecosystem. The resolution, I believe, lies in fostering a global consciousness that sees beyond borders and racial divisions. The advent of technologies such as cryptocurrency and blockchain, alongside cultural phenomena like K-pop and Japanese anime, points towards a movement of global unity and shared cultural experiences. These innovations and cultural exports have the power to bring the world closer, encouraging a sense of global community that transcends traditional boundaries.

My hope is that future generations will embody this ethos, recognizing that human relationships and connections know no borders, and in doing so, pave the way for a more inclusive and united world.

IROHA: Based on your work or background, do you have any advice or a message for young people who want to follow in your footsteps?

Dr. Nakada: My advice to the younger generation is twofold: Delve deeply into understanding your passions and aspirations, but recognize that it’s nearly impossible to have a complete roadmap before embarking on your journey. When you’re young, your experiences and knowledge are inherently limited. This shouldn’t deter you; perfection and completeness are not prerequisites for progress. Embracing action with 100% commitment is invaluable, often becoming life’s most significant asset beyond any monetary reward.

Success or failure should not be your primary metric. Instead, immerse yourself in each life phase, pursuing what genuinely interests you at the moment. This approach ensures a life that is not just successful but also richly rewarding and fulfilling. Success can sometimes hinge on luck and timing, elements beyond our control. Focus instead on what you can influence: your actions and how you allocate your time. While stability is a worthy goal, pursuing it without passion or commitment can lead to stagnation. This is especially relevant today, as the traditional model of lifelong employment in places like Japan evolves.

The future demands rapid adaptability, and stability will increasingly derive from the ability to learn and adapt. With this skill set, financial success becomes achievable, regardless of societal shifts. Therefore, my message is clear: Engage deeply and learn vigorously in whatever you do. Taking action, rather than merely talking about it, is crucial. For any path you choose, let your journey be defined by learning and doing.

This is the essence of my guidance to the youth, aiming to inspire a proactive, fulfilling, and adaptable approach to life and its myriad opportunities. Lastly, fail as much as you can and as fast as you can. Failure is what brings you one step closer to success.

IROHA: Outside of work, what are you most interested in right now?

Dr. Nakada: Outside of my professional commitments, I am deeply passionate about enriching my life through diverse cultural experiences and interactions with people from various backgrounds. Engaging in physical activities, including workouts and sports, alongside occasional visits to the beach, forms a crucial part of my lifestyle. For me, maintaining both physical and mental health is paramount.

I believe in the importance of surrounding myself with positive and inspiring individuals, as they play a significant role in my personal growth. Ultimately, my aim is to evolve continuously as a person, focusing on well-being, broadening my horizons, and fostering meaningful connections.

written by Susan Miyagi McCormac

Presence.fit PR from NeuralX on Vimeo.


 Masaki Nakada's Website | LinkedIn