Archive for October, 2006
I WILL live to have a robot companion. Soon the ultimate status symbol, eventually a household staple. We talk about software being user-friendly. Someday, androids will radically change our definition of user-friendly. Using a physical box computer and panel monitor will be laughable vs. a personal assistant android. Expressing yourself through your background images and alert sound effects will be positively arcane, when you can customize your android’s personality and change it as frequently as your mood.
In Japan, robots are more than mere gadgetry–they’re practically family.
Unlike the U.S., where the icons of a dawning era of robots tend to be either the faceless, Frisbee-shaped, floor-scrubbing Roomba or the killing machines of the “Terminator” movies, the consensus on the other side of the Pacific tends toward cuddly animals and small children. It was Japan, after all, that gave the world the puppylike Aibo, the toddler-size Asimo and the cartoon figure of Astro Boy.
And it’s Japan where the government is making a big push to have, within the next decade or so, a corps of nonthreatening robots ready to assist in office tasks, housekeeping and elder care. Colin Angle, the CEO of Roomba maker iRobot, cites estimates of 39 million household robots there by the end of the decade.
In a new book called “Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robotics,” journalist Timothy Hornyak delves into the reasons behind the country’s fascination with friendly, humanoid machines. The roots stretch from 17th-century novelty items on through Japan’s pacifist reaction to the atomic bomb blasts of World War II.2 comments
“The following list was compiled after hours of lively debate, pages of exhausting science and one actual geek fistfight.”2 comments