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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 11:56 03/03/2008
News Review #435: March 3, 2008

Japan Looks to a Robot Future

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

Japan Looks to a Robot Future
Washington Post (3/1/2008)

Japan and Robots Are an Old Love Affair
Associated Press (3/1/2008)


These days it is not easy to find a good, forward-looking news report on Japan in the media, but over this weekend there are a couple of positive news articles about the future of Japanese industry and society at large, as seen in the links above. It is about robotics, which seems to be advancing rapidly and beginning to affect the economic and social life of ordinary people.

The most recent development is reported to be a new kind of robots that can deal with human emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust. A group of researchers and students in Tokyo have developed a rubbery robot face that simulates such basic expressions as fear and disgust when the word "war" is heard, and smiling lips when "love" is heard. In fact, this is not an eccentric idea, but rather a very natural course of development, as Japan's "love affair with robots" can date back to the 17th century when "karakuri" dolls were invented, and robots have been "living among people" in Japan since then. So, it is about time for robots to share human emotions and feelings, at least on the surface.

In fact, robotics is a serious business, as Japan's robot industry is expected to grow "from about $5 billion in 2006 to about $26 billion in 2010, and nearly $70 million by 2025," according to the Washington Post article. In Japan as a whole, the declining work force must be somehow supplemented, if possible, by robots, and more and more robots should be used in factories, offices, and even at home to take care of elderly people in the future.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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