Friday, February 4, 2011

Why Does Japan Emphasize Robotic Advances?

[Cross-posted on ABA ST-AIRC Blog]

From the BBC, interesting article about why Japan has taken such an active role in promoting "humanized" robots -- necessity being the mother of invention. And why some of the elderly in Japan prefer the human touch:

No, Robot: Japan's Elderly Fail to Welcome Their Robot Overlords

By Michael Fitzpatrick BBC News, Tokyo

"In Japan robots are friendly helpers not Terminators. So when they join the workforce, as they do often in factories, they are sometimes welcomed on their first day with Shinto religious ceremonies.

But whether the sick and elderly will be as welcoming to robot-like tech in their homes is a question that now vexes a Japanese care industry that is struggling with a massive manpower shortage. Automated help in the home and hospitals, believe some, could be the answer. A rapidly aging first world is also paying close attention to Japan's dalliance with automated care. It wants to know whether it can construct the nursing-care and medical-care needed in a future with fewer younger people to take care of the elderly.

Japan could show us how.

"The country sees it as an imperative to build carer robots and systems that can monitor health in the home. Because without them the nation's health care system won't cope," says carer Yasuko Amahisa.

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