Sunday, April 17, 2005

consumer robots spreading in japan

according to the washington post, officials filed a report claiming that every japanese home will own at least one robot by the year 2015. in america, robots are still a sci-fi fantasy, a dream (or anxiety) of the future. yet in japan they're already taking over, taking employment positions as secretaries, night watchmen, hospital workers, babysitters, guides and pets for both the young and old.

meet ms. saya, a robotic japanese receptionist. her job is to greet visitors and answer questions at a local university. she has a storage of 700 verbal responses, and an impressive array of facial expressions ranging from joy to despair, surprise to rage. when a professor walked up to her in a rage accusing her of being stupid, she replied simply by saying "eh?" wrinkled her face into a scowl, and exclaimed, "i tell you, i am not stupid!"

norihiro hagita, director of the atr intelligent robotics and communication laboratories near kyoto, claims that robots are gaining greater acceptance in japan than in western countries, at least partly, because of differing religious beliefs. in the japanese shinto religion, it is believed that all things have gods within them. this animism of the material world means that there is not only life within humans, but life within everything, even robots. hagita believes that, "for us... a robot can have an energy all its own."

the full article is fabulously interesting and in depth, check it out here.

idea via future now

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